A weekend with friends

Had a lotta visitors this past weekend

Had a pretty full weekend, all things considered. The main thing was that I had a sitter so that I could roll with a buncha friends early on Saturday at a friend’s place in Billyburg.

A new guy gave me a lift back into the city.

Him: You have a lotta friends in this city. I mentioned that I knew you and some guys overheard and came over and started talking about you – good things. That’s cool.
Me: (laughing) I probably owe them money.

He dropped me off at 14th Street and 7th Avenue where Mouse picked me up to head home.

She was supposed to stay over and play Exploding Kittens with me, Chad, Pez and Iron Chef but she had to bail for personal reasons.

But not before she was nice enough to drive me to Koreatown to pick up some pre-seasoned food and then come back with me to help me clean up the place.

Boy: MOUSE! I missed you!
Her: I missed you too – give me a hug!

She also found time to roll around with the boy on the mats.

While she was here, Paul and his wife stopped by with their two-year old daughter. She and the boy got along great – I think he’s just so thrilled to see other kids after spending 10 months with his grandparents.

This is him showing her his tablet, to which he may or may not be addicted to at this point.

After Paul and his family left, Mouse left soon after but then Chad, Pez, and IC showed up. It was the first time in a while that I had people over with the kid and it was pretty great, I gotta say.

Boy: Where can I sit?
Me: You can sit next to uncle Chad.
Him: Yay!

Now, Iron Chef’s an actual chef so, while I grilled up the stuff from Koreatown, he made some shrimp and mushrooms, and finished it off with some Japanese dessert.

I probably shoulda taken pics but trust me that it was all killer. Then we got down to finally playing some cards. They’d never played before so I told them we had to all tell our best three-minute story to decide who went first.

Iron Chef won because it involved him getting naked on the streets of NYC.

Me: (to Pez) To be honest, men look for any reason to get naked. I can’t call Chad without him answering naked.
Chad: It’s true, you gotta be free.
Me: Things have to air out.

We talked about randomness, as people do while playing cards.

IC: I used to go to the jazz club downtown. (pause) Because I like jazz.
Me: Sure, I went there too because I like jazz. Big, bouncy jazz.
Pez: (laughs)
Chad: What guy doesn’t like big, bouncy jazz?

Forgot who won but it was either me or Pez. I suppose it doesn’t matter.

It was a nice innocuous night. What more can you ask for in this day and age?

Location: home, wondering if we’re ok
Mood: tired
Music: She’s gone in the blink of an eye (Spotify)
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It’s spring in January

It isn’t hell

Speaking of FOMO and not caring, last year I threw Chad and Mouse a joint bday party but this year, Chad just swung by on his actual bday and I just got the two of us a massive amount of Vietnamese food.

Him: Somehow, they knew it was my birthday and gave me two cans of coke.
Me: (puzzled) Yeah – I told them.
Him: Oh…

He only recently started getting a taste for good alcohol so I taught him how to make Hemmingway’s favourite drink, the daiquiri. At least, my version of it.

We pounded about four of them each and just discussed his new hobby, which is a wholly different conversation.

Me: I baked cupcakes.
Him: Thanks!
Me: They’re mainly for the kid, but I saved you one for your born day.
Him: I’ll take it.

Another friend stopped by this week; she was just in the city to train but the gym wasn’t open that day so I invited her to come here to shower and clean up.

Me: Do you want brekkie?
Her: Oh, I couldn’t…
Me: (rolling eyes) You’re a guest, are you hungry?
Her: I could eat.
Me: A heart-attack sandwich it is then.

Like I said, I have no shortage of friends. It’s the shortage of family that weighs on me the most.

Speaking of family, do you know the Roman/Greek myth of the seasons centers around family?

Essentially, the goddess Ceres – from whom we get the word “cereal” – was the goddess of grain and harvest. Her daughter, Proserpina, was kidnapped by Pluto and she refused to allow anything to grow until her child was returned.

Eventually, she was, but Proserpina had eaten six pomegranate seeds and, because of that, had to live in hell for six months out of the year.

During this time, Ceres despaired and so came winter until her child was back and spring could return again.

The boy came home this week – after all this time – and it was spring once again, at least in a tiny UWS apartment.

Me: He’s home!!!
Him: (inspecting the house) The bathroom’s dirty. Grandma’s bathroom is cleaner.
Me: (laughing) Everyone’s a critic. Also, to be fair, no one’s bathroom is as clean as grandma’s…

Ridic easy daquiri
One shot of light rum
1/2 a lime, freshly squeezed
1.5-2 TBS agave
Soda water
ice

Squeeze half a lime into a highball and mix in the agave and shot of rum until it’s thoroughly blended. Fill the highball halfway with ice and then the remainder with soda water. Gently stir to combine. Pound.

Repeat until every person of the opposite sex looks beautiful.

Location: home, without any rum but plus one boy
Mood: tired but content
Music: It’s so cruel what your mind can do (Spotify)
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A fall day in the burbs

Confusing me

Her: I think we’re confusing everyone by hanging out all the time.
Me: You’re confusing me by us hanging out all the time!

Mouse told me to keep a day open for her this weekend because she wanted to bring me somewhere.

Her: And make sure to bring your camera.

So, early on Saturday, she picked me up and off we went to, what ended up being just eight minutes from my mom and sister’s house: The Fall Escape at Queens County Farm Museum.

It was just a thing for us to walk around and take pictures.

While there, we met two young ladies and we offered to take pictures of them if they took pictures of us.

The pictures they took weren’t great, but – like the waitress – they were very nice and tried their best.

Having said that, it was nice being out in the burbs with Mouse early on a fall weekend.

Me: I wish the boy was here with us.
Her: We’ll come back with him; now that we know how to get here, we can come anytime.

Afterward, I wanted to stop by to see my family but, as luck would have it, it was one of the few times I’ve ever left home without my phone so, when I stopped by to see them afterward, no one was there and I couldn’t reach them.

I really wanted to see my mom and was disappointed that I didn’t.

But by then we were starving and headed off to the same all-you-can-eat place that we’d been to a few times previously.

Walking out, I took the pic below and told Mouse, “If this is still here in 60 years, I’m coming here at 107 with you and Chad and we’re gonna make them regret this.”

Later that night, I called my mom.

Mom: We talked for over an hour!
Me: I know. I missed you.
Her: I miss you too.

Location: home, trying – and failing at – an arm-triangle
Mood: hard-to-say
Music: I know I’m someone to you (Spotify)

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Someone that believes in himself

Better than the alternative

I finally got my piña coladas the other day. No umbrella in it but beggars can’t be choosers.

You see, my cousin, Ras, didn’t come with us the last time Cho, Mouse, Chad, and I went off to get seafood so she suggested we go there earlier this week.

Cho picked up Ras first and then Mouse and me. Chad wasn’t feeling well so he wasn’t going to come but Mouse rang him up and found out that he was fine and just being overly-cautious.

Mouse: You have 15 minutes to get dressed, we’re picking you up.
Him: I’ll need more than 15 minutes, I have to…
Her: (interrupting) You can just put on your makeup in the car. We’ve all done that. 15 minutes.

So off we went. It took us 15 minutes to travel the 10 blocks we needed to get out of Manhattan, and then 15 minutes to go the next 10 miles.

That’s driving in Manhattan for you.

While on the way to the restaurant, we saw this massive truck try to parallel park into this tiny spot.

Me: Now that’s someone that believes in himself.
Her: God, how small is his stuff that he needs a truck that big?

We ended up ordered the same thing we got last time.

Ras, Chad, and Henry: We’re stuffed.
Mouse and me: We’re ordering two more stone crabs, one snow crab, and potatoes.
Ras: You two are animals.

Mouse didn’t say a word for the next 20 minutes as she silently made those crabs regret being born.

I managed to say a few words in between bites and more piña coladas.

The next day, Mouse made made me a lunch of grilled fish with a low-carb creamy cauliflower risotto.

Now, she’s cooked for me before but this was honestly the best thing she ever made me – so much so that I asked her for the recipe.

What I got from my request was not only the recipe itself, but also vindication that it’s not just my mind that was going, because Mouse did to me, exactly what I did to her just a few weeks ago.

Me: Can you send me that recipe?
Mouse: Sure. (sends me the recipe, my phone beeps) Oh, you have a notification.
Me: Oh? Wait, that was was you texting me the recipe!
Her: What the heck!? I guess I’m getting old.

We all are. Getting old is a blessing, though – it’s better than the alternative.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, getting a gyro with my coach
Mood: hangry
Music: they don’t know about you and I(Spotify)

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You realize it’s my birthday

We’ve got a ticket to ride

While I didn’t get to do any of the things I’d planned with him, it was nice to have the boy home for a few days.

But, after being away for over seven months, he’d forgotten a lotta things about our home so he spent the first hour or so reacquainting himself with the pad.

And, at the end of the night, he was a bit worried about sleeping in his room again.

Me: Why?
Son: I don’t want be alone.
Me: Kid, we live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan; I’m never more than 18 feet from you at all times. Go to bed.
Him: OK. See you in the morning.

It was both weird and nice to have him home. I spent the remainder of the evening cleaning up after our day before I went to bed myself.

I’d only been sleeping a few hours a night because of work and the building issues but my son woke me up early the next day.

I wasn’t fully awake so as I turned away to try to get a few more minutes of sleep, he stood there quietly for a moment.

Him: Papa?
Me: (sleepily) Yes?
Him: You realize it’s my birthday today, yes?

And I was instantly awake and gave him the biggest hug.

He’s such a good and clever kid. I keep thinking that Alison woulda been so happy with and proud of her little boy.

I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time as I’d wanted with him but it was better than nuthin. Brought him back to my in laws and we celebrated his birthday properly out there.

Because of everything going on with the building and my son, I didn’t vote for the first time in over 16 years. Even when Alison was sick, I voted.

But, in the end, I got what I wanted.

My cousin Roz came by after Biden won and we chatted about the election.

Her: I thought you were a conservative.
Me: I am. But he’s not a conservative, he’s just a crook.
Her: So you’re a democrat now?
Me: I’m for the best person for the job, that’s the only thing that should matter.

Yet, it’s not.

Podcast Version
Location: home, reading up on COVID
Mood: pensive
Music: don’t know why she’s ridin’ so high (Spotify)

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First bike ride

I’ll say joyful

Took the train to see the boy last week.

I was on a completely empty train car when some dude got on and decided to sit directly behind me.

Thought it was odd but didn’t say anything. After just a bit, I heard a deep voice say, “Hey, man. Hey, man – yo, back here.”

I turned around to see this huge fella wearing a baseball cap and a Black Lives Matters mask.

Him: Hey, man. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sitting behind you because this is the only seat with a plug near it and I gotta charge my phone.
Me: Oh! Hey, thanks for telling me. I was wondering…
Him: Yeah, for sure. I’d do the same thing. Empty car. I get it, man.
Me: Seriously, thanks so much for saying something.
Him: No problem, man. I get it.

When I got to my stop, I wished him well.

Me: I hope you get to where you’re going safely, homie. Have a good weekend.
Him: (big smile) Hey, thanks, you too, you too.

My mother-in-law picked me up.

The boy was in school (online) so he couldn’t come with her but when we got to her home, he was there on the porch, waiting for me. He started screaming, “Papa, papa!” at the top of his lungs.

If you’re not a parent that hasn’t seen his kid in weeks, I can’t fully express how it felt to see him.

But I’ll say joyful and hope it translates, knowing that it won’t.

MIL: I wanted you to be the one to teach him how to ride a bicycle.
Me: Thanks, mom. That means a lot to me.

I remember riding my first bike.

It was a yellow girl’s bike with flowers on the plastic banana seat and a white basket. I didn’t care. It was mine and I loved it.

I took off the training wheels from the boy’s bike and he began to cry.

Me: Are you scared?
Him: (nods)
Me: It’s ok to be scared. You can only be brave if you’re scared first. But you get points in life for being brave. Be brave for me, ok?
Him: OK, papa. I’ll try.

He was. He did a great job.

Although, to be fair, even if he didn’t, he’s mine and I love him.

Podcast Version
Location: yesterday night, home again
Mood: busy
Music: Everything means nothing if I can’t have you (Spotify)
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Your computer is updating, Ms. Claire

Welcome to Kindergarten

I went to see my son the other day. My mother-in-law made me chili.

Me: This is the first chili I’ve had in years. After Alison died, I pretty much ate chili every day.
Her: Is chili going to be ok?
Me: Absolutely. I can’t wait.

It was delicious, of course. They’re as much family to me as my own. But, then I had to go. There’s never enough time.

Him: I wish you could stay forever.
Me: I know. Me too.

I’m glad that he’s young enough that he’ll probably not remember the virus and everything related to it. But, I wonder how it’s changed the trajectory of his life.

I wonder so many what if things, as you might imagine.

He started kindergarten virtually this week. I was pretty bummed that I wasn’t there with him. All the more so that Alison wasn’t.

Again, as you might might imagine.

I meant to tell you that, towards the end of prekindergarten, his teacher pulled me aside to talk to me. I was worried that it was something bad – of course. She spoke to me in her thick Irish brogue.

Her: Today, your son came up to me and said, “Your computer is updating, Ms. Claire. It will be ready in a moment.” He read that from the computer screen! 11 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never met anyone like your son.
Me: Oh god, I was worried you were going to tell me that he did something wrong.
Her: You worry too much, Mr. Lo.
Me: I have good reason to.

On the first day of school this week, the teacher turned to the class and asked if anyone knew what she wrote on the board.

The boy raised his hand and read to the class, “Welcome to kindergarten!”

She woulda been so proud.

Alison and my dad woulda been so proud of this happy, brilliant little kid.

Podcast Version
Location: yesterday morning, getting squashed in LIC
Mood: sore
Music: I loved you right away (Spotify)
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Naked Chinese Man

Scattergories

In addition to the health issues that Mouse’s mentioned in her blog, she’s also been dealing with some other issues that were out of both of our wheelhouses.

Luckily, we had a friend Hawk that knew what to do and helped point us in the right direction.

As a thank you, we got him a fine bottle of rum and invited him and his girl over for some food this past weekend.

Him: I’m essentially a pescatarian.
Me: I am so sorry to hear that.

Mouse picked up a side of salmon and I made this super easy AIP salmon dish that was honestly delicious. While I did that, Mouse helped me cleanup the pad.

Mouse: I didn’t know what to do with a lot of it so I just put it on your desk.
Me: Makes sense. That’s where it’d probably end up anyway. Thanks for helping!
Her: (laughing) Well, thanks for cooking.

Hawk and his girl H came by with two bottles of wine and we all had a fine dinner. I think.

H: He told me how old you were; I didn’t believe it.
Me: I literally look for any excuse to take off my clothes. I’ll take them off now.
Her: (laughs)
Me: No really, I’m serious.

Afterward, we settled down for some board games.

Her: We like Scattergories.
Me: Oh, that was one of Alison’s games. We always meant to play it. I suppose tonight’s as good a night as any.

Mouse and I dug it up and we played it. I could see why Alison liked it. She always loved word games like that and Boggle. Essentially, you have to make up lists of things that begin with random letters.

For “N,” one clue was, “Things you find in a home.”

I just thought of something when the buzzer went off.

Him: What were you going to say?
Me: I was going to take off my clothes so I could write, “Naked Chinese man,” but I ran outta time.

It was a fun night. In some ways, it made me miss the boy more. I want all my friends to meet him because he’s such a joy.

Soon, I hope.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, near Penn Station, cleaning off my blood
Mood: ouch
Music: just another lonely night (Spotify)
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That was REALLY unexpected

Moments of passion

Me: What are you gonna do when I have hot female fans?
Her: What do you mean, “start?”
Me: (laughing) I’ll take the compliment and the one you gave yourself.

In my last entry, I wrote, “By the time you read this entry, I should have 100,000 views on that video,” referring to the video below.

That was five days ago. It was released on September 7, 2019 and I wrote that entry on September 3, 2020, so it took 361 days to hit 100,000 views.

As of today, September 8th, 2020, it hit over half a million – 539,240 views as of this exact moment I’m writing this. That means it somehow got 439,240 additional views in five days.

That’s insane. I honestly don’t have any rhyme or reason for it, but you know me, I’ll take any weekday win I can get.

On a much more mundane note, I spent a good part of Labor Day weekend working but Mouse stayed over for part of it.

I swear my memory is getting worse and worse these days.

Case in point, I tossed a book off the sofa to the floor so she had a place to sit.  No more than 10 minutes later, I asked her if she saw it.

Mouse: It was cast aside in a moment of passion!
Me: What? Really?
Her: No. Are you serious? It’s right there.
Me: Jeez, what is wrong with me?!

While she was here, she asked me for some legal advice, so I gave her my honest opinion.

Her: Oh, you get a kiss for that.
Me: Man, law school was totally worth it.

Actually, we were both pretty busy with work and personal matters but we did manage to head downtown via the Hudson River Greenway again.

Coincidentally, we ended up riding right past Lviv’s place.

Besides that excursion, we didn’t really do much else, although I did cook a ton because she’s been on this new diet for her health.

She’d never seen The Amazing Race so we randomly picked a season and started watching it.

She got really into it, which I expected, since she’s such an adrenaline junkie, which isn’t my thing at all.

I suppose that’s a major reason why we broke up in the first place.

Well, that and things like this conversation.

Her: Whenever I see white suburban moms, I think of you.
Me: I would be offended if that weren’t accurate.

Podcast Version
Location: in front of my computer from dawn to dusk
Mood: busy
Music: I’m such a stalker, a watcher, a psychopath (Spotify)
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Grief-Stricken

Chuck and Chad(wick)

Chuck, Cho, Chad, and Mouse came by on Friday to wish Chuck a safe trip back home.

Me: Well, I already spent thousands this month on my apartment and health so I figured, “Why not blow another $150 on a smokeless grill? What difference’s 150 bucks at this point?”
Chad: Makes sense.
Me: We should invite Chuck over for a last BBQ in NYC.
Him: Let’s do it.

For anyone that’s been to my pad before, they know that the air circulation is low-to-nonexistent. No matter what I try to pan-grill, my smoke alarm goes off and it’s a sauna most days of the year.

I’d gotten the grill a while ago and decided to christen it and wish Chuck a farewell at the same time.

We picked up burgers, kielbasa, kraut, cole slaw, roasted veggies, potato pancakes, and drinks around the way, bringing them back and grilling everything up. We were supposed to start around 5:30.

Mouse: (walking in at 7PM) Wait, you haven’t started eating yet?
Me: We started a bit late.
Her: I can see that.

After we were done eating, we watched an episode of a food channel, an episode of hot ones, and then got down to serious matters, like board games.

We started with SpotIt

Chad: My morale’s deflated.
Me: I gotta put that in the blog.

…before moving onto Exploding Kittens

Everyone: How could you have that many defuse cards and still lose, Logan?
Me: It’s a gift, really.

Chuck: I’m going to throw a hairy potato at you. And not one of the cards.

…and finishing up with the classic, Pictionary.

Guess what this is and click it to read the URL of it to see if you’re right (Chuck figured it out)

Note that we were all two-sheets-to-the-wind – except for Cho – because he was the only one driving. Which is why I found the following exchange so amusing:

Mouse: (drawing)
Cho: What is that? An eye?
Her: (nods)
Him: Eye circle?
Her: (shakes head)
Him: Eye globe?
Her: (eyes wild and wide, stabs picture)
Him: Eyeball?
Her: YES! It’s an eyeball! EYE GLOBE?! EYE CIRCLE?! WTF is an EYE GLOBE, CHO?!

Chad was laughing hysterically when he glanced at his phone and suddenly turned sober. “Oh, no!” he said.

Him: Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer. He was 43.
Me: What? (taking out phone, reading) Um, I need a second, fellas.

I went into the back room, sat down, and just cried. That’s how it works, you see. That’s how grief works.

One minute with you’re with your fave girlie and good friends, and the next minute you’re in the back pulling up pictures of people you know you love and that you’ll never see again and an actor that you never knew.

You never know when life’s gonna hit that grief button. But when it does, holy shit…

I always knew the word, “grief-stricken,” but I never truly appreciated the etymological brilliance of the word until that moment.

It’s actually so perfect with how it works as a word, you are literally stricken – hit, bludgeoned, injured, wounded, struck – with grief.

That’s what grief-stricken means. Grief hits you like a fucking baseball bat, and you’re left gasping for air.

I was literally laughing one moment and trying to cry as quietly as I could the next. That’s what grief-stricken means.

As for Chadwick, that’s a whole different matter that I need to work through.

Chad: (leaning in) I’m sorry, brother, I wasn’t thinking.
Me: (shaking head) Why are you sorry? It wasn’t you that took her from me.

Podcast Version
Location: alone in my apartment
Mood: Friday, grief-stricken
Music: Sooner or later in life, the things you love you loose (Spotify)
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