Catching lunch at the Hudson Yards

A last-minute get-together

Her: At least you can drive.
Me: Drive? I’ve been driving for 35 years.
Her: (laughing) I was barely alive when you started driving! (laughing harder) I’m dead, I’m dead.
Me: (grumble)

My brother was in town again with his new girl…

…so, the Firecracker and I met up with the two of them at Hudson Yards, along with KTO.

It was a very last minute thing since we weren’t planning on meeting up until later in the week but everyone just happened to be free that day so off we went.

Haven’t been to Hudson Yards in a while for a buncha reasons but I was looking forward to going for the first time in a long while.

We met up at Mercado Little Spain there and had some tapas, again.

I’d never been before but it was essentially the entire basement area in one of the buildings so that was surprising.

Ended up having some mussels

…and a killer mushroom, onion, and date sammie.

Afterward, we all piled into a bus that brought everyone to another restaurant directly across the street from the Firecracker – which was totally by happenstance.

Later on that week, the Firecracker had a small celebration of her own for personal reasons and my brother and his girl came out for that.

But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

May’s almost over. I’m relieved.

Location: My basement, taking measurements and hoping for the best
Mood: hating today
Music: I will love you until my dying day (Spotify)
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A trip to Queens, Pt 2

Five Tomatoes

My mom drove the three of us back to her place.

The Firecracker explained she grew up in places that looked very similar, although every home was on an acre of land.

Boy: How big is an acre?
Me: 43,560 square feet.
Him: Is that like 10 miles?
Me: Do you know how many feet are in a mile, kid? 5 Tomatoes.
Him: 5 Tomatoes?
Me: Yeah. 5, 2, 8, 0. A mile has five-thousand, two-hundred, eighty feet. “Five Tomatoes.”
Firecracker: I’ve never heard that before!
Me: And…now you have.

Once we got back home, I introduced the Firecracker to my sister and her kids.

Everyone seemed to get along pretty well as my sister and she chatted for a bit, while my mom cooked.

My sister got a bouncy house as a gift and asked we could help set it up for the kiddos.

I figured out how to inflate the thing and set it up while the Firecracker hammered the stakes into the ground.

Afterward, we borrowed my mom’s car for a drive but we only made it two houses when the Firecracker noticed an open house just a few doors down.

Her: Let’s check it out!
Me: Sure, I’ve always wanted to know what other houses looked like inside.

We stepped in and checked it out. Since she’s from the south, she’s much more about big houses with yards than tiny apartments in the concrete jungle.

It was a pretty house but I’m still hoping to stay in my apartment, somehow, despite the massive increase I pay every month.

We got back into the car and we took a drive out in Long Island because the weather was just perfect.

Ended up at a Barnes and Noble that I used to go to every single day to study for the LSATs.

I think that was one area where Alison and I differed on what a perfect day was. She always liked to keep busy while I liked to sit and read in cafe.

Used to spend entire days there reading and having coffee but haven’t done that in over a decade.

Me: Are you ok with sitting here, having a cuppa coffee and reading for a bit?
Her: That’s my love language!

Afterward, we took a slow drive back. My mom had made a bunch more Taiwanese and Chinese dishes, which the Firecracker also loved.

Mom: Do you want to take some home?
Her: Yes! If that’s ok.

We stayed for a little while longer, just lounging around the house, while the kid continued to play with his cousins until it was time to go.

The Firecracker found the note above the aquarium ridic funny.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the station to catch the train back to the city.

The trains are rarely late but this time, they were delayed some 30-40 mins, so it was pretty late once we got back.

The Firecracker got out at our station but immediately walked home because she had work the next day and a lot to do at home.

So, the kid and I went home.

Me: Did you have a good day?
Him: Yes! What are we doing next weekend?
Me: Not sure yet, I’m sure we’ll think of something.

Location: Koreatown, with some of my oldest friends and a crapton of food – alla which I ate
Mood: stuffed
Music: we should jump right into the personal facts (Spotify)
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A trip to Queens, Pt 1

Lu Rou Fan

Firecracker: Wait, you didn’t mention that I was the one who thought you might have left your phone at Dark Bullet, called them, and found your phone for you?
Me: …no?

The Firecracker really does love to cook.

Mentioned to her that I’d not eaten Taiwanese food in a while so she ended up making me a dish I absolutely love called lu rou fan.

Her: I’ve never had it before so I didn’t know what it should taste like.
Me: (shaking head) It’s still good though. And these endives are killer – how did you cook them?
Her: I blanched the shit outta them.

What she made was good, but it didn’t really taste like lu rou fan – I think the recipe she chose wasn’t the best so I wanted to take her out to try the genuine article.

Now, I’d been meaning to see my mom and sis for a while now but my sister’s the most peripatetic person I know; trying to see her and her kids is a lesson in scheduling.

Mom: You know your sister – she’s like a horse, always running around.
Me: Isn’t that the truth!

But I figured that it was time they met The Firecracker and my sister just happened to be in town last weekend, so I grabbed the kid, met up with the Firecracker, and headed out to the wilds of Queens.

Usually, I can take the train straight to see them but, because of construction, we had to transfer in Woodside.

Her: I think we should be on another track.
Me: Nah, it’s gonna be this one.

It was not.

So, because I didn’t listen to her, we missed the transfer and waited half-an-hour for the next one.

Me: Oh man, I’m so sorry. I was wrong and you were right.
Her: God, I love how that sounds!
Me: (grumble)

Because I screwed up so badly, and because I’ve been dreaming of Taiwanese food non-stop since the Firecracker made me the lu rou fan, I brought them to a Taiwanese restaurant literally right across the street from the Korean joint that Pac brought me to, years ago.

Neither of them ever had Taiwanese food before so I did all the ordering.

I got the classic pork chop on rice with lu rou fan, some pork stuffed crepes, soup dumplings, an egg scallion pancake and a soy milk.

The boy didn’t like the soy milk but loved everything else.

Me: How is it?
Him: Sooooooo good!
Her: Everything is delicious – you’re five-for-five, Lo!

Afterward, my mom came by to pick us up and bring us over to her place for dinner but that’s a story for tomorrow.

Me: Hi, mom! This is [The Firecracker].
Firecracker: Hi! Thank thanks for picking us up!
Mom: Of course, get in!

Location: earlier today, a schoolyard, introducing myself to a parent and asking them what they thought about a school I was thinking about for the kid
Mood: plants are trying to kill me and I don’t like it
Music: I know I always come and go but it’s out of my control (Spotify)
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A walk up Broadway

I hate May a little less now

Me: The hardest thing about being an adult is relationships, because we all have our quirks.
Her: (laughing) *snort*… yeah, especially with you.
Me: Wait, what?

The weather was really nice the other day so the Firecracker met me outside the gym for a walk up Broadway.

We spent most of our time checking out stores.

We barely got three blocks from the gym when we stepped into a home goods store.

I’d mentioned that I wanted a new carpet for my room and we spent some time checking them out…

…although, I gotta admit, the ones we were looking at were a little outta my price range.

I mean, even the cooking utensils were outta my price range…

…for real.

It felt really domestic, though, to be checking things like home furnishings out.

It’s almost like we’re playing house or something like that, except we’re both adult parents that have seen way too much of life as it is.

Which is not to say, she wasn’t down to check out some less-than-adult things like the local Harry Potter store.

Her: Do you want a Butterbeer?
Me: I have no idea what that is but I like butter and I like beer.

We ended up at a Chik-Fil-A and having some sandwiches before we went to a few other places and called it a day.

There’s more but that’s really all I wanted to tell you.

It’s May again.

I’ve hated May with a passion ever since Alison died. I still don’t like May but it feels better this year.

It’s not just that so much time has passed since she died, it’s also that I’ve cut out so much negativity and toxicity around me, which – coupled with the Firecracker and my therapist – has been really good for my overall mental health.

And I’ve got a super busy month ahead of me, most of which is my friends, family, and the Firecracker trying to keep me busy and sane.

I’m grateful.

Him: Why don’t you like May, papa?
Me: (sighing) Well, it’s because your mom’s birthday is in May and I wish she was here to celebrate it. And Mother’s Day is in May and I’m reminded again that she’s not here. And she died in May so…
Him: Oh…I’m sorry. I wish she was here.
Me: (nodding) You and me both, kid. You and me both.

Location: earlier tonight, going to yet another open house, but this time, two doors from my family’s home.
Mood: pretty good, all things considered
Music: I stuck by ya, you’re the sunflower (Spotify)
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Japanese BBQ for Linner

Mixed feelings

The Firecracker was away down south visiting family for a few days but flew back early to spend some time with me while she was still off.

Me: If you’re gonna do that, I’ll meet you at the airport when you get back.
Her: You don’t have to do that.
Me: I know. I want to.

The plan was to take a cab back to her pad, drop of her luggage and then go get a late lunch/early dinner.

But, as always in NYC, traffic was at a crawl.

Her: I’m starving.
Me: You know me, I’m always hungry.
Her: We’re [kind of near the restaurant]. Should we just tell the driver to head straight there?
Me: Heck, yeah!

So, after just a couple of minutes, we hopped outta the cab and walked a few shorts blocks there.

The weather was great so the walk was nice but it wasn’t far so, before we knew it, we were already at the restaurant, quickly ordered some drinks, and then our food came.

I’d actually been to the restaurant once before with a friend, but this was the first time I did the barbeque version of it.

We started off with the salad and veggies…

…before turning to the meat…

…which the Firecracker was nice enough to cook.

We were pretty full but not completely when the waitress came by to inform us that they only brought half the meat we ordered.

There were three more trays of meat to be had.

Me: Yes!

Our birthdays are pretty close to each other so she did the same thing that I did when we went up to Legoland, and had the waitstaff come by with dessert and sing me a happy birthday song.

I think it was the first time anyone did something like for me. It was sweet.

Me: I can’t remember the last time I had regular ice cream.
Her: I’m not sure it’s regular ice cream, it tastes more like gelatto.
Me: No, I mean full fat, non-keto ice cream.

It’s been on my mind a lot, my birthday. It’s coming up in like less than a week.

I’ll be turning 50. Half-a-century old.

For me, it gives me all sortsa mixed feelings.

For the Firecracker, it just gives her something to amuse herself with.

Me: (on phone) It’s asking for my birthday. Hold on…
Her: (a few moments later) You know you’re really getting old when you have to spend forever on the click wheel [to get to your birth year].
Me: I’m at the 80s now, almost there…

Location: earlier today, having a picnic with her by the river
Mood: allergic to all this damn pollen
Music: Let’s get out of this town. Drive out of the city, away from the crowds (Spotify)
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The lady in green’s bday

A stop by a local bistro

Me: (laughing) Good god, that’s the kinda pushcart my grandma would wheel around.
Her: Look, I’m dating a grandpa, I might as well have a grandma cart.
Me: So mean!
Her: You started it! Plus, someone’s gotta get your ego down a notch.

The dinner the other night after the theme park was really just a spur-of-the moment kinda thing.

I actually planned out the Firecracker’s birthday to a French bistro around the way

Me: What do you want for dinner?
Her: Well, I love salmon. So, any place that offers that?

It turns out that she’d been to the place I picked out but she came right after COVID so they only had a tasting menu.

This was the first time that she was trying out something from the full menu.

Whenever I’m in a French bistro, I always order the mussels if they’re available – pure protein if I skip the bread (which I should do, but never do).

Her: Give me your camera, I want to take a picture with all of the steam coming off of it.

It was pretty good, I’ve gotta say.

Man, I miss Paris.

The vegetable sides were great; think I’m gonna try and make some carrot purée next time, because theirs was killer.

The Firecracker would probably agree.

Afterward, we went to the second bar that we went to on our first date.

We ordered two drinks and a dessert.

Purely by coincidence, she wore a green dress, I wore a green suit, and one of our two drinks were green.

Because it was a school night, I had to leave pretty early but it was nice to celebrate her bday with her.

Me: Technically speaking, you’re probably the oldest woman I’ve ever been serious relationship with.
Her: You’re kidding me, right?! So, you keep getting older, but the girls always stay the same age? That’s messed up, Lo.
Me: (laughing) Yeah. It’s a wonderful thing.
Her: (rolls eyes) Are you done dating children, Logan?
Me: Evidently.

Location: earlier today, making the last of Steel’s tuna
Mood: hungry – what’s new?
Music: Hey there, baby, now ain’t it the life? (Spotify)
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Our hearts are red balloons

I need to change that

The Firecracker got home a bit earlier today so, after I dropped the kid off at his afterschool – which is just two blocks from her pad – I stopped by.

She usually buzzes me into her building and unlocks the door so I can let myself in.

Me: Hey, where are you?
Her: (running towards me, hair and limbs akimbo) BANZAI!!!

God, it’s nice when someone’s happy to see you.

Last week, when we saw the Surgeon, my buddy Steel wasn’t available.

This time, though, he was so the Firecracker, the kid, and I went down to Chinatown to grab some food and headed to the Surgeon’s pad for another get-together.

Steel cooked everything…

…while the Surgeon made some mixed drinks.

Him: Do you want rum or som-
Me: Rum!
Him: (laughing) No surprise there.

The Firecracker was a big hit with Steel’s wife.

Her: We love her!!! I am keeping her!

The Firecracker and I tried to limit our drinking and we did an ok job. It was hard because the surgeon does mix some killer drinks.

He and Steel own a few bars in the city.

Firecracker: Wait, I’ve been to that place. That’s yours?
Steel: Yup. Which one?
Her: There’s more than one? The uptown one?
Him: Oh, we have another one downtown.
Me: We’ll head out there onea these days.

We did, however, eat continuously since we arrived. Especially since there was a ton of sushi for the adults, alla Chinese food I brought, and pizza for the kids.

Me: I want a slice of pizza.
Him: What about the carbs?
Me: I already ate so much sushi that I figure that I’m in it.

Speaking of carbs, the Surgeon’s wife pulled out a whole stack of Klondike bars. I’d not had one since I was a kid so I took one.

The next day, I hosted one of the kid’s classmates and then brought the two of them to another class outing at a playground near me.

I’m looking forward to spending the summer hanging out with kid and maybe having the Firecracker for company.

My summers have been pretty sad lately.

I need to change that.

Location: the Barnes & Noble on the UWS, realizing they blocked all the windows so people wouldn’t sit on the sills anymore
Mood: hungry and dreaming of apple pie
Music: The skies are wide open (Spotify)
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Never have I ever…

Finding the things we look for

Forgot to mention that, while I was at my in-laws last week, we got onto the topic of how many pushups I could do in one minute.

I’d never tried to figure it out before so I cranked out about 60 in 45 seconds, but those last 15 seconds were agonizing. Agonizing.

I could only get out 19 more; try as I might, I could NOT get to 80 before my muscles gave out.

Which they did and I collapsed onto the floor. My son – god love him – was disappointed:

Him: For god’s sake, get up!
Me: (breathing heavily) Everyone’s a critic…

That’s my boy, folks.

During one of our late-night outings with copious amounts of legal pharmaceuticals, the Firecracker and I started playing a game of “Never have I ever.”

Gotta say, dating someone from the south is entertaining on so many levels.

Her: You’ve never been to a field party?
Me: I don’t even know what that is.
Her: It’s a party. In a field. With a bonfire.
Me: I figured out the first part on my own.
Her: My favorite one was on Moo Cow Lane.
Me: That’s not a real place.
Her: (laughing) Yes, it is!

So many levels.

On a different, but related, note. There are also lots of unexpected perks to dating another parent.

For example, she and her son came by the other day for a playdate. They’re close in age so they get along well.

Unfortunately, in the middle of it, my kid tapped me on the shoulder and said that he didn’t feel well. I figured he was just tired but then he said he had a sore throat so I gave him some Tylenol.

Her: Take his temperature.
Me: Not a bad idea, ok, hold on. (later) Shoot. 103.
Her: OK, we should go.

It was impressive, I gotta say, how her maternal instincts kicked in.

Tthought about that woman I briefly dated that said that she didn’t mind that I had a kid.

That woman and I got along great for the few times we saw each other but once she said that, I lost all interest.

Chatted with a buddy about it a few days after I ended it.

Him: Your kid’s so great, I’m sure she woulda come around.
Me: (shaking head) I couldn’t take that chance. My kid’s made of awesome; anyone who wouldn’t want someone like him in her life, I wouldn’t want in mine.
Him: (shrugging) Well, hopefully you’ll meet someone you like.
Me: I will. We all find the things we look for, good or bad, one way or another.

Location: this evening, running into two of the kid’s teachers from when he was a kid just off Broadway
Mood: potentially sick
Music: always been the weird one out, fucking up that little town (Spotify)
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Valentine’s Day 2023

Sneak peeks

Don’t think I’ve had a proper Valentine’s Day in years.

Not that I’ve not wanted to. It’s just that it’s not something you can do on your own.

Like I said, I’ve been trying to do things differently these days. After all, if you keep doing what you do, you keep getting what you get.

Me: You free to do something [next week]?
Her: A chance to spend time with Logan Lo? Yes, please.
Me: (laughing) Great. I’ve got a few things in mind.

Had my sitter watch the kid and had the Firecraker meet me outside of my pad.

While it’s great that the boy seems to be fine with her, I do want to try and manage how often he sees her because everything is so new.

Having said that, I brought her to a private sneak peek of a building that was just gut renovated a couplea blocks from my pad.

As soon as we walked in, someone took our coats, and within a few minutes…

Him: Chardonnay?
Me: That would be lovely – thank you very much.

She’d never been to anything like this so I showed her around a bit but she got the hang of it pretty early and was soon off doing her own thing, checking things out.

Should mention that the bathrooms at this place were nicer than my entire apartment.

Her: This shower is bigger than most rooms.
Me: We should get a place like this.
Her: Let’s do it!

In any case, I put on my old personality and started making friends.

Me: Do you have a card?
Him: (fumbling) No, I…
Me: (reaching in my jacket pocket) No worries, take one of mine. Logan. And you are…?

The Firecracker wanted to stay longer than I did, because it was all so new and fun.

But we had dinner plans.

Me: Sushi’s still good?
Her: You put that in my head, so, yes, I’m definitely up for some sushi.

I’m still trying to understand how much she eats. I’m used to eating a ton so I ordered waaaaaay too much sushi. She had a normal human’s portion while I…did not.

Her: I’m so stuffed.
Me: I’M so stuffed. That says a lot.

We actually got each other things for Valentine’s Day. What I got for her is for her and we’ll leave it that.

Me: I always slant practical versus romantic. It’s just my nature.
Her: No, these are awesome, thank you!

She, in turn, handed me a heart-shaped box. I gotta admit, I was a bit disappointed when I saw it because I don’t eat sweets. At least, not normal sweets that I don’t bake myself.

Her: It’s not what you think it is. Open it.

And I did and saw that she bought me a heart-shaped box of…dried meat products.

Her: I know you don’t eat carbs so…
Me: Holy shitballs, this is awesome!
Her: You like it?
Me: It’s perfect. Thank you.

Afterward, because she didn’t live too far from the restaurant I walked her home.

Me: Did you have a nice night?
Her: I had you, a nice event, and a great dinner. So, yes.
Me: (laughing) Good. I did as well.
Her: This wouldn’t be a bad life, Logan Lo.
Me: No, Firecracker. Not at all.

Location: this afternoon, watching the boy hit a takedown and get mount on the UWS
Mood: impressed
Music: you and me, we’re not friends (Spotify)
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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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