Coming in threes?

School again

Him: I’m a little worried.
Me: That’s normal. Everything’ll be fine.
Him: You promise?
Me: Yup. Promise.

The kid started school recently. The Firecracker was sweet enough to make that sign for him you see above.

Her: (beaming) AND, I laminated it too.
Me: You’re the best!

He was anxious the day before and I tried my best to reassure him, but I get it.

Still, he left school that first day with nothing but smiles.

Here’s hoping it’s another good year.

Alison would be so proud.

Speaking of Alison, when things went down with her, they also went down with my dad, and my cousin.

Both my dad and she died within 90 days of each other from cancers they never should’ve had: Alison passed from a cancer that generally kills old Caucasian men, my dad from lung cancer despite never smoking nor having any reason to get it.

This past weekend, in the span of 24 hours, my mom fell and took a nasty hit to her head, an uncle got into a terrible car accident (but survived), and another uncle up and died.

All within 24 hours.

People keep saying to me that bad news comes in threes and I do my best to chalk that up to pure superstition.

Still, it’s very odd and sad that it’s bearing out.

So, this past weekend, I dropped everything and rented a car for four hours to see my mom for 20 mins.

Man, NYC is the only place where it takes 90 minutes to drive 14 miles.

My mom’s ok, btw. She’s just very worried about everyone else.

Oh, and I detest people that use other people’s tragedies to garner sympathy for themselves – when Alison and my dad got sick, so many people lamented how concerned they were on social media and did jack shit for us.

The situation with my uncles is very sad but the grief is mainly borne by their immediate families and not me.

I always say that I don’t like to tell other people’s stories, only my own, so I’ll leave the details of everything to them.

Like my mom, I’m sad for them and worried for everyone left.

To end on a lighter note, I’d been on the hunt for purple (fleshed) potatoes for a few weeks now and stopped by a local Asian grocery for literally 6 minutes – because that’s all the time I had before I had to return the car – to see if they had some.

But they didn’t and I didn’t have enough time to go to any other stores.

The kid did make a new friend, though.

Location: shooting Scenic Fights all damn day
Mood: panicked, not about the elbow
Music: our tragedy binds what our ignorance hides – we all wind up here together (Spotify)
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I’m not an activist

The Dragon Combat Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s full-on nuts.

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

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

Got COVID…yet again

Firecracker: Take a COVID test.
Me: What? Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no way I have COVID again. I already had it three times, I’m double vaxxed and double boosted.
Her: Just take one. You have a million tests, anywho.
Me: (sighing) I guess you’re right.
Her: (later) Well?

Felt like hot trash for the past few days.

The two people I rolled with the day before AND the Firecracker – who spent every single day with me – did not get it.

My luck runs ever true.

The fella that wrote Brave New World once said, Most human being have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Thought about that tonight because I’m constantly reminded of my possible pasts that I didn’t realize would be so short and special to me in hindsight.

See, I’ve been clearing out stuff in the house and had to head down to the basement, which I’ve not done in a while because the basement scares me, greatly.

Not because of the spiders, or mice, or whatnot, but because of ghosts.

Well, that’s not wholly true because they’re not ghosts per se, but apparitions in my head.

Remember when alla that flooding happened and I told you that I lost most of Alison’s things then? That was true. But I still find things.

Tonight, I found a box of a 101 cookie cutter shapes. Alison got them when she was pregnant with one of the kids we lost.

She had all these dreams of making sugar cookies and tree ornaments for our children.

They’ve never been used.

And I found bags and bags of the kid’s clothes when he was younger.

See, I saved every single goddamn shirt and pants. Because I thought that, maybe one day, I’d have another fatty to call my own. And he, or she, would need some clothes.

And a crib, and a stroller, and a changing bed, and toys…

But alla that seems less and less likely now.

One of the (many) things about Alison that I adored was how unsentimental she was. As long as she had a picture of something she loved, that was good enough for her.

Coming from a poor background, my family slanted towards hoarding while her priorities were cleaniness and order. She always encouraged me to let things go.

So, I started giving away a lotta of the kid’s old clothes and things.

And I’ll probably give away these cookie cutters as well.

Alison would have.

Spoke to my therapist recently.

Therapist: How have you been?
Me: Besides getting COVID for the 4th time, pretty well.
Her: (smiles) You seem it. Tell me what’s been going on.
Me: Things have been going really well with the Firecracker and me. She understands, better than most, having alla these hopes and dreams and then having them suddenly disappear.
Her: That’s great, what else?
Me: (thinking) I think that for a long time, I’ve been unable to truly accept that this is my life. I think that for the past…Jesus Christ…seven years, I’ve been fighting – both subconsciously and consciously – the reality that is my life.
Her: And now?
Me: I don’t really have any other choice, do I?
Her: I’m proud of you, Logan. That’s a good step. You should be proud of yourself as well.
Me: I’m not sure I’d go that far, yet. But I’m trying to be better.
Her: (nods)

Location: my basement, sans COVID, thinking of my possible pasts
Mood: thoughtful
Music: the trace of a memory, stained into the past (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.
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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Nobody told me

Believing in myself

Her: Should we have a code word, like Beam me up, Scottie? Or Full steam ahead?
Me: Oh my god…

The next day, the Firecracker and I continued to work on our joint project.

But we decided to take a little break to meet up with her sister, brother-in-law, and niece for a quick drink around the corner.

There was a nice wine shop there; every time I see I wine shop, I stop by to check if they have my fave bottle of regular rum.

Me: I don’t suppose you have Captain Morgan Private Stock.
Him: No, sorry. But we have Bacardi.
Me: Yeah, no. It’s not the same thing.

The street was closed off for a block party and there was a band out as well, so we were all well entertained.

I got the table two dozen oysters…

Her: A dozen for everyone?
Me: No, a dozen for me, and a dozen for the rest of you.
Her: You’re gonna eat a dozen oysters by yourself?
Me: I believe in myself.

…while they got greens and fries for everyone.

Afterward, we walked over to H Mart where I bought a whole buncha frozen Asian food for me to cook during the week.

Her: Look, face masks! It’s great for your skin. Do you want one?
Me: Do I have a choice?
Her: I’m getting them.
Me: (later) I look like a serial killer.
Her: But your skin will be fantastic!

So many of my friends are dealing with some life altering things.

A good friend of mine gave me a ring over the weekend.

She and her husband of seven years were divorcing. She filled me in on everything that was going down.

Her: I’m so sorry to use you and Alison as inspiration for surviving this.
Me: Don’t. I get it. My life was a horror and I’m still around. I’m sure I’m many people’s worst-case scenario.
Her: It feels wrong.
Me: It’s not. It means that Alison’s story still matters in the world. I can’t think of anything that would honor her more, really.

It’s true.

Nobody told me that life would be so…tumultuous.

Location: day-drinking with her in an empty bar on 80th and Amsterdam
Mood: conflicted
Music: ran down 71st as fast as I can; I’m telling her everything (Spotify)
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My soul is lemonade

Make me write bad checks

Me: What makes a proctologist decide to be a proctologist? I mean they have to look at assholes all day.
Firecracker: (shrugging) I’m sure that you lawyers deal with just as many, if not more, assholes every day.
Me: Fair.

I find the Firecracker pretty funny, mainly with her earnestness in life.

Because the funniest things come from a place of honesty.

There’s something refreshing about having someone that is relentlessly upbeat and positive, especially considering my recent past.

In terms of the big three buckets of health, wealth, and relationships, relationships seem to be the one that my friends talk with me about the most.

With that said, I’m not the only one whose life seems on the upswing.

Ran into a friend of mine the other day who was with someone new. Afterward, she and I chatted about it.

Me: I didn’t realize you and [your ex] broke up. Was there any particular thing?
Her: (thinking) It was weird. I told him – straight-up – things like, “Could you let me know if you’re running late, “or “Could you drop me a line to make sure I got home OK?” Nothing. Ever.
Me: That’s weird.
Her: Yeah. Basically, that relationship was: “He knew what I wanted but he never did it.”
Me: Jesus Christ, can I relate to that…

Of course, for every person whose life is getting better, there’s gotta be at least one person whose life is getting worse.

Or two – see, two friends of mine just announced that they were divorcing each other. I didn’t wanna pry but it seemed that things mainly come down to issues in communication.

Have you ever actually read the story of the Little Mermaid? The original story is…dark. Waaaaay, dark.

Essentially, the mermaid saved this prince’s life but couldn’t speak so the prince thought some other chick saved his life and married her, and she died.

The end.

Think the loneliest people in the world are the ones that aren’t actually mute but can’t communicate.

I feel for them. After all, communication isn’t what you say, it’s what the other person hears.

Besides, what is life without someone to talk to?

Then again, some things might be best left unsaid.

Me: Can you do me a favour?
Her: Sure, what?
Me: Can you walk on my back? I’ve had a rough day at the gym.
Her: (laughs) Sure!
Me: (10 minutes later, groaning) OMG, hurt me, call me names, make me write bad checks!
Her: Umm… you…Mad Hatter!
Me: (laughing hysterically) MAD HATTER?!
Her: That’s all I could come up with! Now write me some bad checks!

I feel like I’m finally past my lemon days, maybe? That’s the hope, anywho.

So, here’s to some lemonade…

Location: day-drinking with her in an empty bar on 80th and Amsterdam
Mood: completely exhausted
Music: Everything’s just fine, I’ma be just fine (Spotify)
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Gird your loins, Logan

What does it mean to be human?

Me: Shoot, he got sick again. Gotta do another load of laundry. I’m exhausted.
Her: Gird your loins, Logan.
Me: Wait, wha?
Her: Gird your loins, Logan!

It was a super busy weekend with the kid because he had a birthday party to go to as well as a class spring fair, like last year.

During onea those two things, he musta caught a stomach bug because the rest of the weekend was pretty gross.

And by that, I mean it was really gross. Did like five or six loads of laundry in two days.

The Firecracker was over working on a few things so she gave us a lotta advice and moral support, both of which were greatly appreciated.

While walking the other day, I saw a firefighter walking a dalmatian.

Me: Dude, I’m sorry but do you mind if I take a photo of you? I’ve never seen a firefighter with an actual dalmatian.
Him: Sure!

Not something you see every day, here in the big city.

The kid had a field trip to the Museum of Natural History the other day and I volunteered to be a chaperone.

I came across that sign that you see above and it really made me think.

If this blog is about anything, it’s about what it means to be human.

There was a lot more I wanted to write about this but I suppose I’ll do that some other time.

Speaking of being human and gross things, gotta say that humans are pretty darn gross.

Case-in-point, the Firecracker loves trashy reality show television and her latest viewing pleasure is that of Dr. Pimple Popper, which – if you’ve never seen it – don’t start now.

Her: (searches for the right episode) OK, this guy…yeah that’s exactly what I had in mind. (presses play)
Me: OK…doesn’t seem…is that guy…OH MY GOD!
Her: It gets worse. Wait for it…
Me: Why are we watching this?! Oh my god, it got worse!
Her: It’s like a train wreck you just can’t stop.
Me: Make it stop!

I think I’ll skip eating entirely tomorrow.

Location: her place, watching something super, super gross
Mood: grossed out
Music: Ain’t nothing gonna stop me in my pursuit (Spotify)
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Capital Grille and Woolworths

Reinventing ourselves

My particular area of the law has been busy lately so I met up with my boss to just talk shop.

He had reservations for us at Capital Grille; I’d never been before.

The ribeye was calling out to me…

…along with a drink…

…or two.

Can’t really discuss what we talked about due to the nature of the work but I suppose I could tell you story instead.

Him: Let me bring you back 15 years, Logan…
Me: Oh, sweet! Storytime!

(c) Francis Gaffney

When I was a kid, there was a Woolworth’s in Flushing Queens that I used to go to alla time.

It was one of the bigger ones out there, so it had the full diner inside, complete with the classic counter stools. Think I ate there a few times, when I had a couple of bucks.

It wasn’t bad but it definitely wasn’t no Capital Grille, lemme tell ya…

In the basement was a petstore, with some of the most ratty and messed up animals you’d ever see.

I remembered that there was once a one-eyed parakeet for sale, and I remember thinking, who on earth would want that?

Turns out, no one did, which is why they’re not around anymore.

It closed in 1997.

Actually, that’s not true.

Woolworths is still around, if you know where to look. In fact, you might have been in one recently.

See, the company is still around, they just changed their name to: Foot Locker.

It’s funny.

Woolworth started in 1879, bought Kinny Shoes in 1963, and created Foot Locker outta that in 1974, and then – because it was its only division doing gangbusters – just decided to change their name from Woolworth to Foot Locker.

That’s kinda how I feel.

I assume you know me because of this blog I’ve had for close to 20 years, so maybe you think of me first as a writer.

And my former clients and coworkers know me as a pretty good lawyer.

But 423,000 people know me as the guy that teaches people how to fight with weapons on Scenic Fights.

And I’m alla those things and more.

After all, we reinvent ourselves over and over again.

But, I like to think that the core of who we are is consistent.

Boss: …anyway, that’s what I thinking. So, how’s your son?
Me: (big smile) He’s…great. So great. We’re a family of two. It’s not what I planned but he makes it all worthwhile.

Location: being pulled out of a bar on Amsterdam by the Firecracker because someone was asking to see what I could do
Mood: complex
Music: Had me at hello, 你好 (Spotify)
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Losing my phone

And then finding it

Me: Shoot…
Her: What?
Me: I can’t find my phone!

The Firecracker cooked me dinner the other night…

…and I wanted to return the favour so, later on that week, I took her out for some drinks and food around the way at a place called Dark Bullet.

I told you about the place few times, like when I went with the mothers I met early on when the kid had just started going to school, and also when I went with my cousin.

It was like I was seeing it for the first time, though.

The first time I’d been there, I was a basket case. The second time, was over COVID and it was a ghost town and, thus, very different.

This time, I was closer to normal – whatever that means – than I’d been in years, and the place was normal again too.

Of course, normal for me means that I’m ever forgetful and clumsy.

You see, after The Dark Bullet, we went to another bar that she liked, called The Dead Poet where she had a stout and I had a light beer.

While there, I realized that I left my phone at Dark Bullet – she called them and they said they found it and I could go back any time to get it.

So, we just slowly enjoyed our drinks, I walked her home, and then headed back to Dark Bullet to claim my phone.

Bartender: What can I…oh, you were here earlier.
Me: Yup, I left my phone here?
Him: Ah, yes, hold on, lemme get it for you.

Honestly, New York City is such a great little town sometimes.

I need to ring up the ladies from the mother’s group to see how they’re doing.

Location: hanging out with the ABFF and her fam, plus the Firecracker and the kid, to wish Alison had the best birthday somewhere in the multiverse
Mood: tipsy
Music: I know I always come and go but it’s out of my control (Spotify)
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