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personal

Happy New Year, 2024!

Wrestling with Angels

Was planning on writing this whole entry about my trip to Vienna but I thought I’d take a little sidetrack to wish you all a Happy New Year.

The Firecracker and I went to the Albertina Museum and saw the Michelangelo and Beyond exhibit and saw a whole buncha things that I could tell you about.

But the thing that stuck with me was the sculpture called The Wrestlers, which is actually not by Michelangelo but by an unknown Roman sculptor.

This is actually a copy but still…

The interesting thing about this sculpture is that it’s a pretty common move even today called the “cross-body ride,” and the top wrestler would probably move to a position called a twister or a guillotine.

You can see a ton of modern examples of this on YouTube.

Now, a decade ago, I wrote about Jacob wrestling the angel and, just like that wrestling move, a lotta what I wrote there is still applicable now.

I find wrestling such an interesting activity because – like the dumpling – every nation has its own version.

Because it’s such a human thing to do; it’s a hallmark of our very species.

Not just literally but figuratively as well. I think I’ve spent the last several years wrestling with my demons and still do.

Woulda been a lot more impressed with this sculpture if the artist put in cauliflower ears like the Greek Boxer of the Quirinal.

Still, we all wrestle with our fate and hope to overcome. One day we’ll be overcome ourselves.

I’m 50 now and I’ll be 51 in 2024.

Dunno how much longer I can actually wassle. But I hope that I’ma scuffle and struggle until I’m breathless and weak – both literally and figuratively.

Hope you do as well.

Here’s to the new year, everyone!

Location: yesterday, at a Viennese cafe with the Firecracker
Mood: missing the boy
Music: In the locust wind comes a rattle and hum; Jacob wrestled the angel and the angel was overcome (Spotify)
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personal

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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personal

Flashy Hot Dogs

Hope is a tricky thing

Yesterday was National Hot Dog Day and the Firecracker has a soft spot in her heart for hot dogs so I grilled some up for us and her kid.

Did you know that some McDonalds used to sell hot dogs? It was only for a brief time.

Prob for the best; I’m not sure a lotta people would go to McDonald’s to order a hot dog.

I saw The Flash when it came out because he was always one of my favourite superheroes – mainly because super speed is the only power I think really matters.

That’s an entry for another day, I suppose.

But, while I don’t think it deserved to be as maligned as much as it has been, I wanted to tell you why I think the movie failed.

As a comic book nerd, I always gravitated more towards DC comics than Marvel comics, even though I really liked both.

See, Marvel likes to ground its characters in realism – the teenage Peter Parker trying to make ends meet while dealing with massive guilt, the alcoholic Tony Stark, the rage-filled, revenge-seeking Frank Castle, etc.

Comparatively, DC heroes are like otherworldly gods – Superman is essentially a god from the heavens, The Flash is as fast and mercurial as Mercury, Wonder Woman is a goddess.

The thing about these gods, though, is that they are innately good, and – more than anything – bastions of hope.

The Pastor and I discussed this ages ago.

Me: Did you like Man of Steel?
Him: No, because he killed Zod. Snyder doesn’t understand Superman never kills. He doesn’t understand that Batman doesn’t use guns. He doesn’t understand what makes them…them. DC Comics are all about hope. But Synder’s film have no joy, no hope. It’s all spectacle without heart.

And that, I think, is why The Flash bombed.

It’s one of the saddest and darkest superhero films out there; everyone and everything is disposable. Heroes are introduced merely to die. No one and nothing matters.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I understand that tragedy is a part of life.

Fuck, if anyone’s life is a tragedy, it’s mine (albeit, fulla joy).

Plus, there’s nuthin wrong with a cinematic tragedy; but kids trying to see their fave hero on the big screen – especially a DC-based one – want the good guys to win.

Evil to be overcome. Good to prevail.

Goddammit, I thought my own tragedy wouldn’t actually be one. Thought we would prevail. But I was wrong.

I digress.

In any case, just like you don’t go to McDonalds for a hot dog, you don’t go to a DC based film to leave feeling hopeless.

And that – not just the bad CGI (which I didn’t hate) and the foibles of the main actor – is why I think the movie failed.

That, and hope is a tricky thing to mess with.

After all these years, I still don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Location: home, using an impact drill to drill into my brick wall for the boy
Mood: full – I way overdid it on my goat curry tonight
Music: Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone (Spotify)
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Oh, how I wish you were here

Proud of ourselves

The Firecracker was busy for most of the following day but we met up for a walk to the pier near my pad when she was free.

There was a salsa party going on so we had to fight our way through that to make it to the edge of the pier, but it was worth it.

Me: What are you thinking?
Her: These are the times where I think, I can’t believe that I live here.

This fella named Richard Ford once said, The more we see our parents fully, see them as the world does, the better our chances to see the world as it is.

The boy just got his first red stripe in BJJ, which is kinda a big deal – certainly to him, if nuthin else.

Him: LOOK, LOOK! (shows me) Are you proud of me?
Me: Of course. But that’s not as important as if you’re proud of yourself. Are you proud of yourself?
Him: (beaming) Yes!
Me: That’s the most important thing, kid. Do things that make yourself proud of yourself, not me or anyone else.

Finding that I miss my dad the most when I want to ask him things about me when I was the kid’s age.

I mean, my mom’s still around and she and I talk about these things but I wonder what my dad was thinking when I was the kid’s age and doing similar things.

Realize all the times that my dad was right – and wrong – about things. I so wish he was here to talk about it all.

If he was, I wish I could tell him that I understand now, so much more about him than I ever did.

Wish I could tell him that I loved him, still do, and always will.

I wonder if he’d be proud of me. Then again, I think I did the best I could with everything I was given.

In that sense, then, I’m proud of myself.

Still, I wish he was here.

Although, truthfully, I always wish the people I loved were here with me.

Him: You looked like this again (makes face). Were you thinking of mommy again?
Me: (smiling, shaking head) I always think of her, but at that moment, I was thinking of my papa.
Him: (hugs me) I’m sorry, daddy.
Me: Thanks, kid. You’re my faves.
Him: YOU’RE MY FAVES!
Me: (laughing, hoping that I’ll stay in his top 10 forever)

Location: getting a second free soda at a street party because the person wanted a pic of me
Mood: hollowed
Music: how I wish you were here (Spotify)
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That sounds like fun

Making plans

One thing that I’m learning as a parent is that summer stuff needs to be planned super early.

I’ve already got a surprise trip planned for the kid as well as a few weeks of things here and there but trying to fill up an entire summer is daunting, lemme tell ya.

Hopefully, we’ll have some stories to tell you after the summer’s over.

Boy: Will you come to Germany with me?
Me: Sure! I love Germany. That sounds like fun.

Met up with the Firecracker and her sister the other day for an early dinner.

Conveniently, her sister also lives in the Upper Best Side, so that made things easy and we just met up at a local bar around us.

I’ve been really into fish and chips lately, plus this place had sweet potato fries, so that made things even better.

She just had a burger, which I always approve of.

Her: Look, they branded the burger with their initials!
Me: Ooooh, fancy!

Her sister speaks Japanese, which was pretty cool.

I’d just bought a new camera (I’ll tell you about that later) and she was actually looking at the one I was seriously considering before I ended up choosing something else entirely.

In any case, my brother, sister, and I, plus my cousins were all talking about a summer 2024 trip back to Taiwan and I asked them if they would be interested in coming along as well.

Firecracker: That sounds like fun!
Sister: I’ve never been but it’s on my list of places to visit.
Me: Sweet, we’ll plan something out.

It feels weird planning things for the future with the kid. Weirder with the Firecracker.

There’s something inherently hopeful about planning for the future.

The last decade has seriously fucked with my head when it comes to being hopeful.

Even before everything went to shit, I was always cautious about being too hopeful about anything.

After all, the more you hope for things, the harder you crash if they fall apart.

Then again, what is life if not somewhat hopeful?

Her: The kids are away that week, do you want to go somewhere?
Me: (long pause) Sure. That sounds like fun.

Holy cow, one of my videos has 10 MILLON views on it.

It’s yet another thing that’s kinda hard for me to wrap my head around.

Location: the alley next to my pad, looking for the kid’s lost AT keychain.
Mood: hopeful
Music: All these lights turning from red to green (Spotify)
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Logan’s 50: Five of my best life tips, Pt. 1

I like to kick, stretch, and kick!

Today is the oldest I’ve ever been.

That’s a joke, of course. But I did just turn 50 this past week, so it’s not quite as funny as it’s been in the past.

The pic above is of me when I was a few days old.

Man, it’s a kick in the head to get my mind around that I was once that infant in the picture above some 50 years ago.

Realize that I probably don’t look 50 to you, which is fine because I don’t look 50 to me.

In fact, when I think of 50, I think of Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley (who’s actually 58 in the clip below):

It’s funny because a lotta my friends tell me that they use me as an example of what 50 might be like for them.

This is my friend Hawk, who – like a lotta my friends – only texts me on my bday, but that’s fine, I’m always thrilled to hear from them.

Spent a lotta time wondering what I would write about to commemorate this momentous occasion and the best thing I could come up with was the five concepts that changed my life the most.

1. Invest in the S&P 500

One of my summer jobs in college was helping two accountants do paperwork for a company called Ziff-Davis, where I ended up working at after college. They asked me to come in on the weekend and said they’d buy lunch. As a poor college kid, that was enough, so I did.

While I was there, we got to talking about investing and they told me to just dump every spare cent I ever made into the S&P 500.

Basically, “S&P” is “Standard and Poor,” think of them like the New York Times, except they only report about companies. And one thing they do is list the 500 biggest companies – in terms of how much they’re worth –  at any given time.

When, say, Company 498 becomes Company 502, it’s kicked out, and some other company becomes 498.

A fella named John Bogle figured out that if you invested money evenly into each of the 500 companies, you’d end up making about 11.8% annually.

If you invested $1,000 a year for 50 years, you woulda “spent” $50,000 but you would end up with $2,505,311.97, or $2,455,311.97 profit.

There are hundreds of funds that track the S&P 500 for little or no money. 

Started doing that 30 years ago, when I was 20. My life woulda been radically different if I never took that weekend gig. 

Think they got me turkey club both days.

In any case, you should probably start investing ASAP, if you haven’t done it yet.

2. Do pushups – or something – every morning

I was a pretty fat kid from 10 to 14 – when I was 14, I was 5 foot 3 inches and 185 pounds with a 44-inch waist.

I went on a fast for four months – legit stopped eating, cold – and dropped down to 120 pounds and a 28-inch waist.

I’m now 50 years old with a 28-inch waist.

It all started when I stopped eating completely to reset my brain and started working out. When I first did it, I could barely do two pushups.

By the time I was 18, I was doing 100 pushups without issue. I just banged out 79 pushups in 60 seconds a few weeks ago.

Look, I don’t really do pushups anymore because I kept needing more. I’m in the gym like 10 hours a week these days.

You don’t gotta do pushups, you can do situps, you can run, you can walk for 30 minutes. Whatever.

But you gotta do something.

Otherwise, you’ll definitely look your age.

3. Learn to cook and stop eating stuff made by machines

OK, I admit that I eat quite a lotta things made by machines, like protein bars and stuff.

But I make sure that at least three out of every four meals I eat, I’ve made most of it myself.

This way, you know what you’re putting into your body.

When I was growing up, my main source of cooking knowledge was a fella called The Frugal Gourmetthis is the very video I saw to learn how to make chili.

But he turned out to be a pedophile – really – so alla his stuff disappeared and I turned to Alton Brown’s Good Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

As an aside, the bulk of my diet is beans and nuts, mainly peanut butter, honestly.

I found out that they sold five-pound jars of peanut butter but I’m more than half-way though one jar and it’s only been less than two weeks.

So, I bought another jar.

But that’s really neither here nor there…

I still have two more things to tell you, but I’ll do that tomorrow because it’s getting late and I don’t wanna mess up my sleep schedule any more than it already is.

And because it’s never too late to be better.

I’m trying to be better, even now.

We should all try to be better than we were yesterday.

Man, I could go for a turkey club right now…

Location: same place I’ve been for the past 18,250 days, here in NYC
Mood: hopeful
Music: I’m still me, who I was, who I’ve been, who I’ll always be
Since I was young
(Spotify)
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The one with the singing

Still loading

Her: (finishes singing a song and turns to look at me) Do you think I’m weird?
Me: (nodding) Oh, yeah. Totally.
Her: Oh…
Me: (laughing) You’re adorkable!

This past weekend, I had a few things really stop me in my tracks. None were what you might call, “good,” but neither were they “terrible.”

They were, however, things that made me radically reassess my life and look at things very differently.

All three are gonna mean that my life is gonna change drastically and I’m not sure how it’ll all shake out.

The smallest of the three – and the only one I can really tell you about – is that the Firecracker and I got into our first real big fight but it was really about nuthin.

Honestly though, most fights are about nuthin, if you think about it in the grand scheme of things.

In any case, my takeaway, though, was her style of fighting. It worked well with my style of fighting such that the whole things – while arduous – was over and done by the evening. That’s a net positive.

I suppose, in life, you gotta take all the net positives you can.

The other two events I’m still sorting it all out in my head. But really big changes are ahead for the Lo family, lemme tell ya.

Ultimately, though, I’m trying to go back to my old mindset from a decade ago and accepting the world as it is, not as I wish it to be.

It’s funny, suppose I started upgrading my OS ages ago but it got interrupted with alla the tragedies.

It never stopped loading into my brain, though.

It’s still loading now, I think.

At least there was lots of music all weekend, between the Firecracker and my son singing.

This is his latest – Emily, another parent from his school, thinks he would rock the talent show. He says he’s too shy.

I dunno, I think he’d be pretty good.

Him: (sadly) Do I have to do it?
Me: Only if you want, kid.
Him: Oh. OK. I don’t want to. Too many people.
Me: Maybe someday.
Him: (nodding) Maybe.

Location: tonight, almost having a homemade apple pie in a bed that wasn’t mine
Mood: accepting
Music: You were only waiting for this moment to be free (Spotify)
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dating personal

All in

Being at a loss for words

The Firecracker had a happy hour with her co-workers the other day and invited me to come along.

I was flattered that she wanted me to meet them. The last time anyone introduced me to their coworkers in a social setting was years ago, although I did stop by an office here and there.

Unfortunately, I’d gotten hit with a MASSIVE hike in my monthly real estate taxes, which threw me and alla my plans for a loop.

Honestly, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how much more I’m paying per month to live in the same damn place I’ve been in for years.

In any case, I’m never late for these kinda things but, because I was juggling a buncha things related to this unexpected new bill, I was 15 minutes late.

Felt awful about that. The Firecracker and her coworkers were all seated in a nearly empty bar when I arrived.

Me: (breathlessly) So sorry I’m late. What’s the topic of discussion besides my tardiness?
Co-Worker1: We were talking about Greece and olives.
Me: (taking a seat) Lovely! Do you remember back when there was that whole pink slime nonsense where people were up-in-arms over putting lye in meat? I told several people that, historically, olives cannot be consumed without soaking them in lye first. They didn’t believe me but thank goodness for Google.

It was all pretty fun after that.

Me: Sorry I have to drink and run. Single parenting and alla that. (reach for my wallet)
Her Boss: (waving his hand) It’s on me, really.
Me: Dammit, I shoulda ordered more expensive stuff.

Because we both had to pick up our kids, and we lived in the same hood, we left together.

Her: (walking outside with me) OMG, you really are good in social settings.
Me: Like I said, you can bring me anywhere, anytime, and cut me loose. I’ll make friends. I have zero social anxiety.
Her: Seriously!

During the happy hour, I felt like the Firecracker was proud that she was sitting there with me. She was legit bragging about me, which was something that’s not happened to me in ages.

In fact, I’ve been a shady secret for so many people for a long time, for reasons that I understand – and I myself often caused.

Gotta say, it was refreshing to be the opposite of a shady secret. She was saying, This is my fella.

On that note, even though we were super early in whatever this thing was/is between us, we chatted about what we were hoping for and doing.

The details of that talk are kinda private and somewhat irrelevant.

But when it comes to dating – at least in modern America – there’re really only three choices:

      1. Roll the dice and leave someone that’s great to keep searching for your person, who – hopefully – exists.
      2. Cash out and give up. Thank god for Netflix and the gym.
      3. Cards down, all in, and hope for the best.

It’s been years since I’ve done number three. And that was all heartbreak and mistakes, by everyone involved.

Which is why I bounced from number 1 and number 2 for alla this time.

But I’ve said for years that I’m looking for something that I can’t put into words.

And I find myself at a loss for words right now.

Me: So, what now, then? Cards down, all in? Or we rolling the dice again?
Her: (shaking head) No. I told you – I wanna keep you.
Me: What about your rotation?
Her: There’s no more rotation. I cut the last guy loose yesterday. Cards down, I’m all in, Logan Lo.
Me: (nodding) I was hoping you’d say that, Firecracker. All in, then. We’re all in.

Location: this afternoon, near Columbia. Day-drinking
Mood: hopeful
Music: I really wanna leave this party so, how ’bout you start it up? (Spotify)
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More bonus I didn’t want

Having a home cooked meal at home

Me: With every tragedy, you get bonus tragedies.
Her: What are bonus tragedies?
Me: (shaking head) All the other shit that comes with your initial tragedy. Like, I assume after a divorce, there’s all this stupid paperwork you have to do. And you have to move. And you have to explain what happened to people. It’s all bullshit bonus. I’m sorry.

Getting the kid a passport is different for me than most parents. I know this because my sister just got passports for her kids.

Both parents have to sign off on getting a kid a passport so that one parent can’t secretly do it, receive the passport, and abscond with the child.

But when you’re a widower, you have to bring in proof that you’re a widower. Which means that I have to dig up both my marriage license and Alison’s fucking death certificate.

Lemme tell you – because I hope it’s a lifetime before you have to do such a thing – looking for, finding, and then touching something like a death certificate for someone you loved deeply is about emotionally equivalent to touching a hot pan repeatedly.

It’s not gonna kill you but fuck all if it doesn’t hurt like hell.

Like I said, it’s all bullshit bonus for shit you didn’t want in the first place.

Clerk: Here’s his picture! I do this a lot but, wow, your son’s super cute.
Me: Thanks. He…he takes after his mom.

The Firecracker wanted to cook dinner for me the other day, so she stopped by and took over the kitchen.

The last time someone cooked dinner for me in my own apartment was years ago.

Gotta say, it was nice. More than nice.

Me: I was gonna say that I was worried it would be dry since you didn’t brine it, but these came out great. Did you use a thermometer?
Her: (shaking head) No, just practice.

She found this bobby pin in my room and I could tell it bothered her.

Me: It’s definitely old. I have no idea who left it here.
Her: But why is it out?
Me: The kid probably put it there.
Her: But why do you even have it?
Me: (shrugging) I hate throwing things away. It seems wasteful. Just a poor kid’s mentality. (joking) I should really have a lost and found for all the rando jewelry and stuff that people leave here.
Her: (glares)
Me: This is probably a good time for me to stop talking. I should probably shut up. I’ll shut up now. (pause) I don’t know why I’m still talking.
Her: (nodding) Yeah…

If anyone’s looking for my foot, I found it in my mouth.

Her: It’s fine. We’ve only known each other four weeks.
Me: In my defense, you said, “Let’s not give this a name.”
Her: I know what I said, Lo. I’m allowed to change my mind.
Me: (nodding) Yes, yes you are.

Location: running into friends around Staples, asking how they were doing
Mood: pensive
Music: All of my demons keep me wide awake (Spotify)
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This is going well

Hello, Firecracker

I don’t write about most of my dates these days because social media in 2023 is a lot different than in was in 2006 and people get annoyed, even if there’s no real identifying information.

But also because they all start blending together into that soupy grey I dislike so much.

The same, “So, what do you do, who do you know, blah, blah, blah,” gets monotonous.

Me: So, Jane, what brought you to New York?
Her: Ann. My name is Ann.
Me: (nodding) This is going well.

But every so often, someone cuts through the hazy grey and gives me some colour.

I cancelled two other dates this week, although one was kinda mutual, but something about the blue-eyed blonde from my neighborhood made me not, despite my not feeling the best, what with all the medical issues popping up.

Plus, she really made everything super easy for me by agreeing to meet up at a bar just a few blocks south of my pad.

She was sitting at the bar in red with her back to me when I showed up. The seat next to her was open so I slid into it.

She turned to me and looked at me with eyes the colour of faded blue jeans. And you know I’ve always loved that.

We both looked at each other and laughed.

Her: (smiling) Hi, Logan!
Me: (laughing) Hello, Firecracker. Don’t you look nice.
Her: You too.

With some dates, conversation’s a struggle.

The actual exchanges are usually fine but it’s really the quality of the segues that make a conversation interesting or desultory.

Lemme tell you that the odds are much improved when someone has an easy laugh and upbeat enthusiasm.

Confidence helps…

Her: (mischievously) Anything you want to tell me?
Me: I take it you found the blog?
Her: (laughing) It’s the first thing that showed up when I googled you.
Me: (shrugging) I never mention it because it’s so easy to find.
Her: You date a lot.
Me: (nodding) I do. I like to say that I’m like Harvard. Anyone can apply, not everyone makes the cut.

..but like I’ve always said, the truth is a powerful thing. And true things are often funny and earnest at the same time.

Her: I’m like this dorky girl that’s attractive
Me: (chidingly) Ah, you admit you’re hot.
Her: Oh yeah, I’m hot.

Actually brought her to the same two bars that I brought my buddy, the Frenchman. Just because it was familiar and easy.

Too much of my life, lately, has been strange and difficult.

Me: Do you want to go to another bar?
Her: So, I take it this is going well?
Me: This is going well. (shaking head) Shit, I’m in trouble.
Her: Because I’m a buxom blonde?
Me: Well, yes. And you’re sweet. I like kindness. Kindness is hot because douchebag is forever.

I told her to eat the dried lime. That was a huge mistake.

We first met up at 7PM and didn’t call it a night until 3AM. Those are the types of interactions I hope for and it’s so rare it happens.

Even when it does, it doesn’t really mean anything.

Her: You’re an onion. [Every time I think I get you, there’s another layer.]
Me: I’ll take that as a compliment. (later) Thanks for a lovely evening.
Her: Same.
Me: I honestly never do this but…I don’t suppose you want to grab dinner [this week]?
Her: (smiling) Sure. It’s a date. Goodnight, Logan Lo.
Me: (nodding) Goodnight, Firecracker.

But hope springs eternal.

Location: earlier today, wondering if 9AM’s too early for a burger on Broadway. It wasn’t.
Mood: cautious
Music: me and luck had a dance but when it comes to you and me: No guts, no glory (Spotify)
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