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Our cancelled check that we existed

A cannonball in Vienna

Me: You know what I realized about that musical we saw, Merrily We Roll Along?
Her: What?
Me: It annoyed me that they told the story backwards but I just realized that’s how I…well, people…look at life as adults. Backwards. I’m at an age where everything in my life I look at in reverse.

A decade ago – man, time flies – I told you the story of Tyre, Alexander the Great, and the Elvis Barbershop.

In a nutshell, I’m always interested in how things from the distant past still affect us to this day.

When I was in Vienna, one thing I really wanted to see was St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which broke ground 887 years ago on 1137.

The Firecracker and I visited it early in our trip to Vienna.

If you’ve never thought of Vienna, or know anything about it, you should know that the city changed the course of history in 1663.

See, that year, the Ottoman Turks laid seige to the city in the Battle of Vienna and came pretty close to conquering the city.

If they did, Europe as we know it would probably have been Muslim instead of Christian, meaning the US would have been Muslim as well.

But the Ottman Turks failed in their conquest so Europe remained, for better or worse, Christian.

The crazy thing is that 341 years after that battle, there are still remnants of the siege lodged in the very wall of the cathedral: A Turkish cannonball remains fixed in time and space on the south wall of the building.

I’m always interested in things from our – distant – past that affect our current lives.

As I try to raise this boy, I think back on my own life and childhood and how I felt and thought about things.

I see life so much more through the eyes of my parents, particularly my dad, and I understand him more.

Don’t fully agree with alla the things he did but I get why he did so much of what he did.

This lady named Mignon McLaughlin once said, The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.

That’s true. I always feel my parents and my past around in the things I say and do.

The kid doesn’t really understand how much of me was made by them and how much of what he thinks I’m giving him, actually come from them.

Ms. McLaughlin was right about our pasts always being there, but – sometimes, though – we can see it as well as feel it.

Back in 2008, told you that someone said that our kids are our receipts. The proof that we existed.

So, the kid is our receipt.

He’s the cancelled check that says that Alison and I were here, and that we did something good at least once.

Him: What are you thinking about, papa?
Me: You.
Him: (laughing) But I’m right here.
Me: (nodding) So you are…and I’m so happy you are.

Location: all day today, shooting Scenic Fights with the fellas on 18th Street
Mood: full
Music: I’m just gonna keep on dreaming’ of the way it used to be (Spotify)
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Eating the kids’ food at Chelsea Piers

Imposing

Of course, we’re not the only people with an active social life.

Almost exactly three years ago, my son was spending alla his time with this older girl named Annie that told him one day that she didn’t want to play with him any more.

Of course, I was worried about him.

Me: Are you ok that Annie didn’t want to play with you?
Him: (nodding) I’ll meet someone else. (later) This is Sandy, papa, she lives on West 74th.
Me: (laughing) Hello Sandy who lives on West 74th. Why don’t you two play and I’ll watch your scooters?

Welp, Sandy turned nine the other day and, just like last year, celebrated at Chelsea Piers.

Think it’s sweet that the two have remained friends all these years, even though they don’t have many friends in common and go to different schools.

Then again, perhaps he’ll always be this socially ok and will always be able to meet new people while keeping old friends.

Ended up chatting with several people I’ve met before at other events.

Friend: I feel bad because I’m eating all the kids’ food.
Me: Wait, there’s more food?
Him: Yeah, over there. (points) That’s for the adults.
Me: I say we stick here and eat the kids’ food. It’s better.
Him: (laughs, nods)
Me: But the drinks are definitely adult.

Sandy’s uncle had to run back to our hood to pick up some forgotten goodies for the other kiddos so I offered to go with him.

Now, Sandy’s mom teased that I shoulda brought the Firecracker.

Me: I didn’t wanna impose.
Her: I put you down party of four to include her and her kid! You should have brought her.
Me: Clearly, I don’t pay attention to stuff.

So, I asked the Firecracker if she could stop by their building and grab the stuff from their doormen and she did.

Before we knew it, we were all hanging out at Chelsea Piers.

When I came back, I searched for my son and someone laughed and pointed at the floor of one of the bowling lanes.

In the middle of all the cacophony was my son, sitting in the middle of everything, eating some cake.

That’s my boy.

Him: Where were you?!
Me: I had to help Sandy’s family with something.
Him: You didn’t tell me.
Me: I figured you were in good hands and wouldn’t even notice that I left for a few minutes.
Him: Next time, you have to tell me when you leave.
Me: Will do, kiddo.

I love him so.

Location: a dive bar, having $1 wings and $5 well drinks. It was glorious.
Mood: sotted
Music: Wе can chill, it could still be dynamite (Spotify)
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A Birthday Dinner in Columbus Circle

Amusing our bouches

The Firecracker and I had a low-key St. Valentine’s Day because the NFL Player and I were planning on taking Thor out to dinner at a fancy restaurant later on in the week to celebrate Thor’s birthday.

We were late getting out the door but made it there right on time.

Thor was there first and waved us over and I introduced them the two of them.

Him: (to Firecracker) So great to finally meet you!
Her: Same!
Me: I’m here too, you know.

We ordered some drinks but then the NFL Player and his wife showed up.

NFL: The Maitre’d and I are old friends. They’re moving us to a better spot.
His Wife: We eat here a lot.
Thor: Nice to have that kinda pull.

Shoulda taken a pic of where we were seated – it was grand – but I was too busy enjoying my drink(s).

It was a really nice time. Everyone was super cool.

We got to talking about our old gym and how disappointed we were with everything there.

Chad’s definitely a better teacher and better fit for the three of us.

The waiter brought over an amuse-bouche, courtesy of the Maitre’d.

But I was starving so the Firecracker and I shared the tomahawk steak you see above – she’d never had one before.

Her: That thing is huge!
Me: That’s what she said.
Her: (rolls her eyes)

While the Firecracker was away, everyone at the table told me I should lock down her down.

NFL Player’s Wife: She seems really lovely.
Me: Wait, I’m a pretty good catch too!
Table: (laughs)
Me: (grumble)

After dinner, we surprised Thor with some cakes.

But Thor and I wanted something different for dessert.

Me: Welp, if I’m having carbs, I want more onion rings.
Her: For dessert?!
Me: You do you, and I’ll do me.
Thor: It’s fine, I’m gonna have some bone marrow and wine.
Me: See?

We stayed out a lot longer than we should have but it was a nice mid-week adventure.

Me: (on the walk home) I’m gonna be having salads and oatmeal all week to make up for what just happened.
Her: (nodding) Oh, yeah, same…

Location: On top of my refrigerator, looking at a huge crack and some mold
Mood: so hungry
Music: tell me it’s gonna be fine I need a little luck tonight (Spotify)
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Valentine’s Day 2024 with the Firecracker

Deserving the full

Took the Firecracker out for a St. Valentine’s Day dinner the other night.

We went to the same place that Thor and The NFL Player and I went the other night because we were actually gonna meet up with the two of them again later on in the week at a fancy restaurant but that’s another entry.

Me: The bartender makes the most amazing drinks.
Her: OK, I’ll try the basil gimlet.

But the waiter heard her wrong and gave her a double Basil Hayden instead.

That was pretty funny – but the bartender quickly fixed that.

It’s the green drink in the picture below.

Now, I actually ordered the exact same food.

Which makes sense, because I like what I like.

And I like the Firecracker.

She likes me too, evidently.

Me: Why specifically?
Her: (thinking) I think because you pay attention to things.

…although she does have plenty of reason not to.

Me: Yeah, I’m always aware of the little things. Because the little things matter. And I’ll do [that thing I’ve been promising to do for you].
Her: (smiles) I’m not in a rush. I know I can depend on you.
Me: I just don’t like to do things half-assed. You deserve full ass.
Her: (laughs) Thanks?
Me: Yeah. (nodding) Full-ass or nuthin for you.

Location: earlier today, waiting between Newark and Journal Square for the train to move
Mood: stuffed
Music: We go together like a party in summer (Spotify)
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Chinese New Year 2024

A year later

Me: (to Firecracker) Can I fight him?
Her: Don’t. It’s not worth it.
Me: OK. But if I have to, I’m gonna have to hurt him.

The Firecracker’s kid was away with her ex so I invited her to join my kid and me to Annabel and her husband John’s annual Chinese New Year party.

Her: Should I wear red?
Me: You don’t have to but a lotta people do.
Her: I swear, Logan Lo, if I’m the only person there not wearing red…
Me: *I’m* not wearing red…well, except for the leather jacket.
Her: I swear…

She reminded me that our kids met the year before on Chinese New Year; she remembered because I told her I wouldn’t be around that night as I was heading to Annabel’s.

Always find relationships so interesting – and how time changes things.

We took the train to Penn Station and then hopped a cross town bus to see them.

Again, being centrally located has its perks.

As soon as we walked in, there was a crowd of people making dumplings, so we washed our hands and joined them to make some for everyone.

That is, until the first batch came out to eat.

That was when I stopped the production component of the evening and switched over to the consumption component.

There was also a ton of traditional Chinese veggies, which I appreciated.

Think I mighta eaten half of the pickled bamboo shoots which are the the white things in the small bowl below, between the black wood ears and the wine bottles.

Afterwards, the parents gave out red envelopes and we were told to sit down for the kids to come up to us and wish us a Happy New Year.

One British boy walked right up to me and put his face less than an inch from mine, which was a bit startling and his dad yelled out, with a proper British accent, “Personal space! Give him some personal space!”

It was pretty funny. You had to be there.

The kid collected like $38 dollars or something.

Me: Great! I get 10%
Him: Dad!
Me: (shrugging) I don’t make the rules, kid.

I actually handed out $2 bills, including to the Firecracker’s kid and niece on other days.

The Firecracker’s BIL commented that they would be more impressive if kids were used to seeing other bills.

That actually didn’t occur to me: the fact that $2 bills are no more/less special than any other bill because people just don’t use that much cash anymore.

Afterward, we took the train home.

On the way back, I almost came to blows with this loudmouth, but everyone’s a tough guy until it’s time to actually be a tough guy.

But that’s a story for another time.

Location: off to dinner with the Firecracker
Mood: hangry
Music: knew I’d figure it out some day (Spotify)
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Trampolining in Brooklyn

Zero nutritional value

The Surgeon dropped me a line the other day. He was bringing his kids to an Urban Air in Brooklyn.

So, bright and early this past weekend, the Firecracker and I, plus both kids, woke up early and headed out to meet up with them.

Because we were up so early, the subway as a whole was pretty empty.

It took a solid 90 minutes from the pad to the place because of alla the subway delays et al.

When we finally arrived, the joint was pretty empty as well.

Took one look at the food options and offered to make a food run since I saw alla these delicious looking delis and bodegas everywhere.

Stepping into one, I ordered a buncha breakfast burritos – the Firecracker wanted bacon in hers but the resta us wanted chorizo.

Him: Why chorizo instead of bacon?
Me: (shrugging) I’m a man.

The kids played for hours.

Legit, hours. From 11:30 to 3:30.

By the time it was 1PM, the joint was packed.

The kids got hungry so some of the other parents ended up picking up food for them.

Me: There’s like zero nutritional value here, kid.
Him: That’s ok.
Me: Is it?

We were there enough that I had time to make another food run for ourselves.

Me: How about a Cuban?
Him: I won’t say no to a Cuban.
Me: Who would really?

Turns out the Firecracker as she’s not a fan of pickles.

Me: What are you, a communist?

One of the kids started saying they wanted to head home so the Surgeon pulled out the big guns.

Him: How about some dipping dots?

That bought us another 30 mins or so.

But only 30 mins or so.

It’s fine. Everyone got their fill of food and fun and we took the train home.

Later on that night, the kid and just had fruit and yoghurt for dinner because we ate so poorly all day.

Let’s see what next weekend brings.

Location: an hour ago, a bar on the UWS with Thor and the NFL Player having an Old Fashioned
Mood: sotted
Music: everywhere we go shout it loud with the crowd everybody knows (Spotify)
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Driving into the Year of the Dragon

It’s Chinese New Year soon

Her: Wait, you’ve never been to a Sonic Drive-In?
Me: I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a drive-in, period.
Her: Well, let’s do that then.

Had to pick up the kid from NJ the other day and the Firecracker wanted to get outta the house, so she came along.

She’d met my mother-in-law a while ago but this was the first time she met my father-in-law.

It was all pretty surreal.

But everyone is so nice that it was nice.

I’d wanted to take the Firecracker to Rutt’s Hut for a ripper but then the above conversation happened – plus we were right by a Sonic – so off we went.

Unfortunately, there were only two people working that day, so we had to go through the drive-in and eat in the car.

Thought the kid would find it more entertaining but…no.

Him: This is it? We’re eating in the car? This is so weird.
Me: Yeah, I can’t remember the last time I ate in a car. Musta been when I was in college?
Her: That was what, like 50 years ago? (laughing) I used to eat in my car all the time.
Me: Really? Why?
Her: (shrugging) Going to college and working three jobs means eating whereever and whenever you can.

It was pretty good. Then again, I’m pretty easy.

The Year of the Rabbit is almost over and the year of the Dragon is about to begin.

Ever since COVID happened, I’ve not been able to see my mom for Lunar New Year.

She and my dad – like most Chinese – always thought that it was important for family to be together.

I noticed that, after my dad died, she stopped bringing it up, so I told her that I’d come this year.

But she just told me not to come since the house will be a mess.

See, my sister started a house project and it involved most of my – and my brother’s – childhood crap getting tossed.

Which I understand. But that also means that it’s gonna be another year away from her and my family for the holiday.

Her: I’m sorry. The house will be too much of a mess and…I have so much to do.
Me: But it’s Chinese New Year.
Her: I know, but…we can do it next year. You’re not mad at me, are you?

It’s fine I guess, I already told my buddy Annabel that I’d bring the kid – and the Firecracker – to Chinese New Year by her again.

The plan was to see my family first and then head to Annabel’s thing afterward, but I suppose it’s all for the best since it would be cutting things pretty close anywho.

Plus, I just got invited earlier this week to my buddy Gar’s 50th but I can’t find a sitter for the kid so late.

It’s nice having so many great people to potentially see for the holiday.

Still, I hope I’ll have a chance to spend Chinese New Year with my mom next year.

Every year that goes by, I worry that I’ll lose her and I’m not sure I can handle losing anyone else for quite a while.

Me: Mad? No mom, of course not. I just…it’s Chinese New Year is all. (sighing) I miss dad.
Her: (gently) Of course you do. We all do. We can do it next year.

Location: Earlier tonight, stubbing my dislocated toe at dinner and seeing stars
Mood: ruminative
Music: I dream of a place called home (Spotify)
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Benjamin, Olly, and Scarlett

Ithaca is Gorges

The Firecracker has met a lotta my good friends, but not alla them.

RE Mike and her just never seemed to be able to cross paths but he hit me up outta the blue to tell me about a kid event in Chelsea and I checked if the Firecracker was free.

Her: Oh, I finally get to meet RE Mike?
Me: Looks that way!

So, on the one nice day this past weekend, we headed downtown to see them.

The event was at a place called Olly Olly downtown, which I’d never heard of.

Essentially, they had two huge bouncy houses there and costumed characters.

The kid was just happy to be able to bounce around; he and Mike’s kid got along swimmingly.

Mike was ever the charmer…

Him: Are you aging backward? You look younger every time I see you.
Me: It’s all the drugs and alcohol. I’m like Benjamin Button.
Him: (to the Firecracker) You know you look like Scarlett, right?
Her: Why thank you! I have heard that, yes.
Him: It’s not a bad thing.

The kid got hungry, so I ended up just getting him a quesadilla, which he ate completely by himself.

This kid is eating me outta house and home.

Afterward, we went to – of all places – the Jacob Javits Center to check out a travel show.

Him: You used to be in this industry.
Me: Ages ago. Man, we’ve known each other a long time.

His wife is a doctor, and her practice is just a few doors down from the gym.

Her: Why did you open a gym down there?
Me: (shrugging) Everyone liked the space.

Mike’s also a lawyer, when he’s not doing all his other businesses. We both talked about our taking the bar there.

Him: (to the girls) Can you imagine this place with rows and rows of nothing but desks and chairs with people taking an exam?
Me: And it was dead silent. Not a single sound except pencils on paper.

We went to the Japan exhibit…

…and then to the Taiwan exhibit where the kid did a high five with someone in a bear costume…

…and then listened to the orchestra – of course…

…before we ended up at the Ithaca exhibit, of all places.

Me: I went to Cornell!
Guy at booth: You did? I have something for you!

He slipped behind the display and rummaged about…

…before reappearing with this.

Me: Awesome – thank you!

Before we left, the kid walked by the Florida exhibit and the guy there proceeded to put an urchin, a starfish, and a snail on his hand.

Him: This is so weird!

Which kinda encapsulates life with RE Mike:

You never know if you’re gonna end up at some ritzy private event with celebs, a private concert, a Broadway show, or a travel exhibit with someone putting sea animals on your kid’s arm.

Wouldn’t want it any other way.

Me: So, you finally met RE Mike.
Her: I did! So, have I met everyone?
Me: Nah, there’s Bryson, Paul, The Professor, Bridget, Nadi, Paul, CoB…

Location: West 71st, chatting up a fella who’s girlfriend just handed me a Macbook
Mood: getting over this damn cold
Music: with a shade of scarlet, running fast to better days, I’m on it (Spotify)
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A night at hot pot, the Library, pizza, Criff Dogs, and (almost) a Speakeasy.

And we ran into another friend, too

The Firecracker needed to get some legal work done but it was outta my wheelhouse, so I asked my buddy Reed to take a look at it for us, which he did.

So, as a mini-thanks for the help, the Firecracker and I took him out to eat hot pot and get some drinks.

We started off at Hou Hot Pot; the Firecracker and I arrived first, and he came just a few minutes later and had on a pearl necklace, like the Firecracker.

Her: Hey, we’re both wearing pearls!
Him: Yes, yes, we are.
Me: Dammit, left out again.

We ordered a ton of food and just caught up.

Afterward, we went to the Library of Distilled Spirits

….where we chatted with the bartender, who also starred in Drunk Shakespeare.

Me: Is it always the same person drunk each time?
Him: Nah, we take turns.
Me: Seems sensible.

Reed ordered a Paper Plane variation, while I had my old standby, the Old Fashioned…

…and a rum drink that I’ve never had before.

Bartender: Have you ever had an Old Cuban?
Me: Nope, but I’ll have one now.

It was honestly, pretty good – but nuthin could beat that first Old Fashioned.

We got pretty lit there and I got snacky, as I’m usually wont to do.

So, we got some pizza.

Her: Whenever Logan drinks, his “no carbs” rule goes out the window.
Me: You sold me out!
Her: But it’s true!
Me: That’s not the point!

It wasn’t enough.

Reed: Let’s go to Crif Dogs and get cheap beer and some dogs.
Me: Sold!
Him: We can also check out the speakeasy there that’s hidden behind the phone booth.
Her: What? Wait, is this Please Don’t Tell?

It was.

But the line was waaaaay too long so we just got dogs and beer.

Turns out the guy running the front desk grew up in Ithaca, where I went to college.

Him: My family owned Rogan’s.
Me: For serious? Man, I haven’t had that in ages.

We just ended up chatting the night away.

Him: Oh, I was engaged once.
Me: No kidding?
Him: We’re still friends. Her daughter visited the city not too long ago and I showed her around.
Me: You’re such a mensch!

It was late when we headed back, and we ran into my buddy Lau who had just finished up a private show.

A lot more happened, but I suppose this is all I wanted to tell you.

Location: in bed almost all day
Mood: sick, send soup
Music: Lethal poison for the system (Spotify)
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A year with the Firecracker

Being in it

Her: Are things like anniversaries important to you?
Me: (thinking) Hmmm, not particularly. You?
Her: Very. But I get it if it’s not to you.
Me: If it matters to you, it matters to me.

The thing with dating in NYC is that there are (a) so many options that it’s easy to think that there’s something better out there for you and (b) that fact also means that you’re always questioning if you’re being too picky.

Close to two years ago, my therapist told me that I wasn’t giving people enough of a chance, mainly because I go on a single date and then bail.

So, I tried dating several people for longer than I normally wouda.

Everyone was quite nice and each had her definite strong points but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they weren’t right for me.

Enter the Firecracker.

From the moment I met her, I felt like I knew her.

Fast forward a year and we went out the other day to celebrate our one-year anniversary of when we met.

It was sweet that it mattered to her, so I took her out to eat the other night at a Thai restaurant that we’ve both wanted to check out for a while now.

For me, one of the signs that a relationship is struggling is when you spend more time discussing the relationship versus just being in the relationship.

It’s been a long time since I was just in a relationship versus arguing about it.

Of course, she and I aren’t perfect, we do bicker at times.

But, more than anything, we see the world very similarly.

Her: Can we stop talking about the relationship and just be in the relationship?
Me: That’d be great, actually.
Her: I’m not perfect. I’m gonna make mistakes.
Me: No, you’re not perfect. (thinking) But you might be perfect for me.
Her: (sighs, smiles)

Location: yesterday, a snowy slope with four boys, three sleds, and one Firecracker
Mood: so full
Music: I was making jokes and you politely laughed (I appreciated that) (Spotify)
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