Crawdads, and…

…fish that tastes like chicken

The kid’s been away for a little while and I miss him terribly.

But it does mean that I have time to do things that are generally too low-priority to actually do – like really check out the new H-Mart that opened a few blocks from my pad.

This is the exciting middle-aged life I live.

Her: I have to give it to Asians for creating a better soup spoon.
Me: I’ve always felt that – glad you agree.

Although not everything was a winner.

Her: OK, explain that to me?
Me: Not sure if I can. It looks like it’s a fish cake, that states like hot/spicy chicken, in the shape of a hot dog, packaged in a plastic cylinder.
Her: Yep, that’s what I got as well.

And the Firecracker and I got to do things around the hood, like have beer and wings over by my local dive bar.

Me: I think I was 24 years old when I first came here. The wings got a lot more expensive but it’s also a lot nicer now.
Her: That’s cool, that you have places that you regularly go to after all these years.

Oh, and also check out things like concerts – I found another video that I forgot to put up last week from the Matchbox 20 concert.

Of course, I’m still counting the days until the kid comes back.

Me: So, what did you do today?
Him: I went swimming in the creek! And do you know what I saw?
Me: No, what?
Him: Crawdads! They’re like little lobsters.
Me: (laughing) I’m not unaware. Don’t let them pinch you.
Him: (seriously) Oh, definitely.

Location: shooting more videos for Scenic Fights
Mood: tired
Music: Maybe it’s time to come home (Spotify)
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Happy Father’s Day 2024

It’s been seven years

I was just born in this picture. My kid wore what I was wearing here as well. Maybe someday, I’ll show it to you.

Mom: Your dad’s been gone seven years. Can you believe it?
Me: Not really. It feels like it was just a couple of years ago.
Her: (repeating) Seven years. Not easy, is it?
Me: No. He woulda loved seeing [the kid].
Her: Yes. That’s your dad.
Me: (nodding)

Location: at a school performance, waiting for the kid to arrive
Mood: impressed
Music: Where are all the gods? (Spotify)
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Alison’s been gone seven years

How is that even possible?

New York’s a strange place.

The kid and I were walking up Broadway the other day and someone dropped an entire jar of pickles on the ground and no one batted an eye.

Everywhere I look, things are a mess or broken.

Everything is chaos and atrophy.

Or, at least, I’m noticing it more these days.

Probably because I’m a broken mess and my mind is all chaos and atrophy.

Alison died exactly seven years ago.

How is that even fucking possible?

Me: I realized something the other day: I may live another 40, 50 years. All that time without Alison.
Therapist: And how does that make you feel?
Me: (thinking) Pretty empty. Then again, these past seven years seemed to dash by.
Her: (at the end of the session) Are you ok?
Me: Yeah. It’s fine. I cry all the time.
Her: This is the first time you’ve cried in one of our sessions.
Me: Is that right? Well, I cry all the time. (shaking head) These years have gone by so fast.

Suppose life will be over before I know it.

It’s hurts to know that I’m gonna end up being an old man one day, and she never got that chance.

I’ve always wished it was me and not her.

Think I always will.

Editor note: I’ll be taking a mental health day for Sunday/Monday, so I’ll post again on Tuesday night.

Location: Stuck in my head again
Mood: heartbroken
Music: It was a big-big world, but we thought we were bigger (Spotify)
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I’m sure she knows

Honest and for true

This entry is out of order; back to the regular nuthin in the next entry.

The Firecracker’s dad came into town this weekend and we met up with him on Saturday for a kid’s birthday party.

It was fine for the most part but then a parent snapped at my kid when he tried to break a piñata with his foot when it fell down – like an 8 year old kid understands why whacking a piece of cardboard with a stick is ok but kicking it isn’t – and destroyed him in front of all the other kids.

It pretty much set the mood for the rest of the weekend for us.

He’d never cried at a birthday party before and, of course, it had to happen during the weekend of Mother’s Day and his mom’s birthday.

Obviously, there’s no way for the other parent to have known that.

But I hoped that, as a parent, she woulda known that people’s brains don’t fully develop until they’re 25. She was yelling at a kid for being a happy and excited kid.

At least he was and then he very much not.

If it wasn’t for the fact that she couldn’t have known and that she was a mom, I woulda been arrested.

Still, he was fine after a spell because I raised him to be resilient, but – man – I was steamed.

Him: She said I did it on purpose, but I didn’t. I was trying to help. (sadly) I’m the worst kid.
Me: Don’t ever say that. She doesn’t know you at all. You’re the best kid mom or I could ever ask for.
Him: Really?
Me: Honest and for true.

We then went to have dinner with the Firecracker’s family at a local taco joint that I’d been to before and then called it a night.

The next morning, despite it being Mother’s Day, the Firecracker got up bright and early to make her family and us a killer brekkie with a baked blueberry and apple oatmeal dish and a baked fritatta with feta and bacon.

The oatmeal bar

My kid liked it so much, he asked for seconds of everything and also asked for more the next day.

God, I love that kid – he’s just like me where we eat our feelings.

We all chatted at my place for hours until we had to meet up with the ABFF for dinner and to remember Alison.

The Firecracker and her kid came along.

The ABFF, her sister, and kids were beyond great.

We ordered a crap ton of Chinese food and, just like in years past, we decorated balloons for Alison.

This was probably the worst birthday/Mother’s Day yet for the kid because he feels the loss now.

Being humiliated and yelled at a birthday party probably didn’t help matters.

It was the hardest one for me for a while because it hit the kid so hard.

Him: (looking up at the ballon) How do we know she’ll get it?
Me: We hope.
Him: (nodding) I hope she knows I miss her.
Me: She knows. I’m sure she knows

Location: home, fulla dumplings and other carbs
Mood: livid
Music: I try to say goodbye and I choke (Spotify)
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Alison would have been 45

Little chance of that

Teacher: …that’s so great to hear about your mom! Who’s next? What about you, tell us about your mom (points at my son).
Him: She’s dead.
Her: What?!
Him: She’s dead. She died when I was a baby.
Her: (flustered) Oh, oh…I…
Him: Not everyone has a mother, [teacher’s name].

He’s way too mature for his age.

I fucking hate it, sometimes.

Mother Day sucks for the kid and myself.

Wrote his teachers and his afterschool instructors as well to remind them of our situation and I guess this teacher didn’t get the memo.

My kid was pretty fucked up when I got him.

Him: It’s not fair.
Me: It’s not.
Him: Why is she dead?
Me: (sighing) I wish I could give you a good answer.

Once again, Mother’s Day and Alison’s Birthday fall on the same day.

Which is about as shitty a coincidence as I could imagine.

Years ago…

Me: …being poor and hungry again, I think. And you? What are you most afraid of?
Alison: (thinking) Being forgotten, I suppose.
Me: (laughing) Well, as long as I’m alive, there’s little chance of that.

Yeah, as long as the kid and I are alive – for better or worse – there’s little chance of that.

Location: stuck in my brain, trying to get out
Mood: not ideal
Music: time to let the girl I love leave my dreams (Spotify)
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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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Of all the weird things

You’re my favourite

The Firecracker got me a Christmas ornament without realizing how much I value them.

And that’s kinda is why we get along so well – we see the world the same way.

Her: What do you think?
Me: I love it.
Her: Really? It’s true, you know. You are my favourite weird thing I’ve found online.
Me: (laughing) Same.

Location: at a bar with a deadly past – with her and the kids
Mood: so full
Music: I was making jokes and you politely laughed. I appreciated that (Spotify)
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Both the light and the dark always come

Building roller-coasters

Just finished Pax, by Tom Holland – the book that the NFL Player gave us all for his bday party.

Man, if you thought Game of Thrones/Wheel of Time was messed up, fiction’s got nuthin on what the Romans were all about.

Life in Rome was dark, oftentimes. Very dark.

On a much cheerier side of dark, however, Halloween’s happening soon.

While I love seeing the kid dress up, it’s also a reminder that holiday season is right around the corner, which has its own darkness for me.

But I’m trying to be positive this year.

It doesn’t hurt that the Firecracker’s around and offers her own positivity around here.

Her: I made a flourless chocolate cake. Do you want some?
Me: Yes, please!
Her: You can come by and pick it up when you’re ready.

And the kid’s always doing something that brings me joy.

This past weekend, the Firecracker, her kid, me, and my kid spent a lazy Saturday sitting out in a playground for a kid’s party, drinking sodas and eating carbs.

Gotta say, I think that I engage with the world a lot just because I have to with the kid.

And sometimes, he gives me joy in the most unexpected but simple ways.

Him: Papa?
Me: Yeah, kid?
Him: I made something. Can I show it to you?
Me: I dunno, I’ve got a ton of…
Him: (disappointed) It’s ok…
Me: Wait. I’ll finish up and you can show me in five minutes. Is that ok?
Him: (happily) Yes! Oooooh, I can’t wait to show you! I built a roller-coaster!
Me: (laughing) I can’t wait to see it.

Location: Earlier tonight, a ferry from Greenpoint to Manhattan
Mood: so beat
Music: If you’re not ready yet, I’ll wait – cause when it’s good it’s great (Spotify)


Dear Alison…you would have been 44 today

You’re the girl I’ve always loved, that’s all I know.

Him: Was mommy sad?
Me: (long pause, sigh) She was sad she had to leave me, but heartbroken that she had to leave you. She cried for an entire day.
Him: How did…
Me: (interrupting) I’m sorry, kiddo. I…I can’t talk about it for so long just yet. Is that OK?
Him: (nodding) That’s ok, papa. It’s ok. (gives me a hug)

Hi, Pretty Lady!

You would be 44 this year. That blows my mind.

Instead, you’re forever young.

I’m getting older – with a LOT more grey in my hair.

Only you would have noticed, though. I’ve been shaving a lot more because that salt-and-pepper beard of mine you used to love is essentially mostly salt these days.

I’m ever so vain. You’d probably say, “That’s my old man!”

And I would pretend to be offended but secretly amused because I knew you loved me.

The boy’s just amazing. He’s everything we ever dreamed of and so much more.

Can’t tell you how many times a day I wish you were here to hear him say something hilarious or sing something beautifully. Or see his perfect handwriting (obviously, he got that from you and not me).

He’s been asking questions about you. I’m always at a loss as to what to say. For years, I’ve told him I’d tell him about you, “someday.”

But, that’s not fair. So, I suck it up and try my best to tell him about you for as long as I can bear.

I’m able to last a bit longer each year.

Each year, it gets a little better. Not because I love you any less, but because I accept this bullshit that is my life and our situation all that much more.

For now, I often just tell him that, She’s the girl I’ve always loved, that’s all I know.

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday.

The boy made you a gift but says he’ll give it to your mom instead because you loved her so much. He does too.

But it a special kinda painful that your birthday, Mother’s Day, and the day you died are all within two weeks of each other.

It’s a special kinda fucked-up but, then again, this whole situation is a special kinda fucked-up, which is on-brand for us.

I was going to write so much more but, like when I talk about you to the boy, I just don’t have the stamina for it yet.

I’m so grateful for the gift you gave me of the boy, honey. He’s just perfect and I am humbled every day to have your treasure to love.

I’ll be better next year, promise.


The Hubs

Location: buying him a slice of pizza at 4:58PM on Amsterdam
Mood: crushed
Music: Feels like a million miles away, I still see signs of home (Spotify)
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Blogarama - Observations Blogs


Kintsugi: The tenacity of the broken

Nothing gold seems to stay

Read yesterday that scientists discovered that a humpback whale named Moon that they’ve been tracking for a decade had broken her spine.

For 10 years, they followed her from Canada to Hawaii – 3,000 miles – something she had to do for food and to teach her calf how to do the same.

Sometime recently, a ship hit her and broke her spine, dooming her.

There’s no question she’ll die, it’s just how long she’ll survive in excruciating pain.

But she longs to live. So, she swam the same path she always swam – except upside down and in pain and a broken tail.

She swam 3,000 miles doing the breaststroke.

Look how broken she is, yet I find her beautiful, nonetheless. I’ve always found people and things that struggle and scuffle against their fate, beautiful.

She’s going to die and I wonder if she knows.

I’ve long said that females seem stronger than males in many regards.

The stories I’ve read about Moon aren’t clear if she made this last trip with her calf or not but I wouldn’t be surprised.

As I said before – and quoting Agatha Christie – A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things, and crushes down, remorselessly, all that stands in its path.

It dares all things.

Including swimming upside-down for 3,000 miles with a broken back and tail.

Have you ever heard of kintsugi?

It the Japanese art of repairing broken things with melted gold.

Essentially things like pottery bowls are put back together with melted gold and the result is something beautiful despite its scars.

I always thought Alison was so beautiful, despite all she’d gone through.

There’s something beautiful about tenacity, especially when it’s driven by love.

Me: They thought I was 35.
Him: Were they white? It doesn’t count unless they were Asian.
Me: (laughing) All three were Asian.

I feel myself retreating into my head again. But, I’m remembering things, so I’m not alone.

For better or worse.

My therapist thinks I’ve been making great strides in putting this mess that is my head back together again but I’m not sure.

The rage is better – all the hours at the gym seem to help with that – but I look at my face and don’t recognize myself a lot. And I’m tired.

Three different people from my gym thought I was 35 when I’m really pushing 50. Actually, one guy thought a woman there was the oldest person in the room when I was actually 17 years older than her.

But I wonder what I’d look like without all the trauma from 2014 to, well, today.

I feel those years aged me more than pretty much anything.

This is one of the few good pics I have of me from 2014, with PerfectCircles, at my fave dive bar.

I’m 41 in it but I usually got that I was in my 20s.

And this one is when I actually turned 41.

Me with Abe

This is me with my buddy a few weeks later:
Logan Lo and a buddy on the Staten Island ferry

I’m flattered that people think I look so young but that vain, shallow part of me – which, granted, is pretty sizable – wonders how much younger I woulda looked like without all that fucking shit we went through.

Which, of course, is hopelessly stupid and banal considering all that I’ve lost.

But it’s just bonus pain to my grief.

I feel that if Alison were still alive, she’d think that I look great, despite the grey and the scars, both visible and invisible.

Love is blind, after all.

I wonder if I’ll ever meet anyone that thinks I’m great the way she did.

Or am I just so obviously and irreparably broken inside and out, without her or anything else gold to mend me?

It’s an old saying but it weighs at me, that nothing gold seems to stay.

And we’re all on our doomed journeys, some shorter and more tragic than others.

I suppose that, like Moon, there’s not much to do but keep going until the end.

Her: What’s going on?
Me: Well, pour me a drink, darling, and I’ll tell you. But you won’t enjoy the story.
Her: How does it end?
Me: (shrugging) Like most true stories, love: In tears.

Location: earlier today, watching the boy sing Jingle Bells and wishing everything was different
Mood: complex
Music: I’m broken but, I’m ready to feel better. Glue me back together? (Spotify)
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