Friday, June 29, 2007

Say "Awwww"

I just want to extend warm wishes and congratulation to my parental units, Mark and Lisa, on the celebration of their 32 years of marriage today.

Love 'em or hate 'em for this very reason, but if not for this crazy couple, I probably wouldn't be here right now (and y'all wouldn't be reading this here grossly entertaining sometimes-train wreck of a blog!).

I hope, one day, to be fortunate enough to have what they have: A passionate, romance-filled, everlasting, healthy marriage. They are truly blessed. And so am I for having parents as kind, generous, loving and all-wonderful as themselves. :O)

Congratulations, mom and dad!! I love and adore you both with all of my heart!!

Mazel Tov!!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Turn the Page

"There are people out there that love you. Write about them."

These words came from one of the sweetest, most generous individuals that I'm fortunate enough to call my friend. At the time, we were discussing a certain person and a certain situation, last week, of whom and which I will not dignify by going into detail about. As far as I'm concerned, the ugly and tumultuous events of last week are all part of one elephantine chapter that I've been ready and willing to turn the page on for quite some time now.


It's funny. A friend of mine once made the claim that I crave drama, I gravitate toward it and, ultimately, thrive on it. At one point in my life, that might have been true but these days, if anything, I'm starting to think that drama gravitates toward me!Honestly, I really do enjoy just walking into my apartment, turning left on my heel and free falling backwards onto my couch. It's not like I sit down at my kitchen table every night, rubbing my hands deviously, thinking to myself, gee, what can I cook up today that will surely make my blood pressure skyrocket???

So, from here on out, I'm going to do my damndest to turn my back on potential drama and walk--no, run!!--away from it, as far as my little (okay...not so little!) legs will carry me.

It's time for me to concentrate on the here, the now and, especially, the good. Lord knows, I'll take as much of that as I can get. And then some!! Truth is, I've been coming to realize, more and more lately, that there's plenty to write about when it comes to the positive stuff in my corner of the sky. I think it's high time that I start. Don't worry, though, boys and girls. There will always be stuff to bitch about.

C'est la vie.

Game Over?

When is it time to call it quits in a friendship?

I've been doing a lot of thinking, for the last few days, about this very topic--and a very specific friend. The thing is, there are times when I truly enjoy her company and I adore her son, my nephew. But the truth is, as much as I love her, I'm starting to wonder whether or not I really like her anymore. Isn't it amazing how something as simple as time can fool us into believing that a person is a better friend than they really are?

I can't think of too many times in the last few months where she said something that didn't hurt me or make me want to pull my hair out of frustration--and, as I'm realizing, I'm coming up a few short on those, lately. It's the same old story: There's that person in your life who repeatedly insists that they love you, they adore you and by just saying so, it somehow gives them the right to be a complete shit toward you whenever they deem it necessary.

I feel that I'm constantly giving more than I get out of this friendship. And it's not just me. She's demanding, she's constantly belittling me and her other friends. She makes up stories about them, She makes them feel stupid if they don't go her way (picture the worst passenger-seat driver you've ever had the displeasure of traveling with and times it by...well, just pick a really big number and you still won't come close). Long story short? She's mean!! And she constantly hurts the feelings of those she loves; those that stick by her, through thick and thin, even when she makes all the stupid, reckless, boneheaded decisions that she consistently makes in her life; even when she treats them like they're less than. Honestly, I have never met anyone who talked such absolute shit to and about their supposed friends. And the most hilarious part of it all is that she wonders why she hardly has any!! What chutzpah!!!

It's like, what the hell do you bring to my life? I mean, really? What the fuck makes you worth all of the headaches and the clenched fists and good ol' aggravation I experience whenever I'm in your orbit? And, ya know, the sad part is that I always forgive you. I do. Like an idiot, a fucking clown, I come crawling back to you, every time, when it's so abundantly clear that it should be the other way around. Why do I do that?!?! Do I really put that little value on my own self-worth?

What's so frustrating about the whole situation is that we continually engage ourselves in this twisted, emotionally-exhausting, nerve-shredding game we like to refer to as our "friendship." I just don't think I can play it anymore. Not unless you make a few dramatic changes in terms of how you treat those that, for some reason, love you. In the meantime, though, I just don't think you're good for me. I'm tired of getting hurt. Fuck you for that.

And fuck me, too, for playing along for so long.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dream Cast

If you had your choice, who would play you in a movie?

That's the burning question of the day, but it's always been a favorite question of mine that I like to ask. If someone was making a movie about your life, or a time in your life that you'd like there to be a movie about, who would you want to have cast in the role of, well, you?

Today, the topic came up when I was conversing (okay...e-mailing back and forth while at work) with one of my favorite partners in crime, Courtney. I asked her who would play her and she wasn't really sure. I suggested Zooey Deschanel from "Almost Famous" (she was the older sister) and "The Good Girl" (in it, she played that punky counter chick who vocalized her profane thoughts on the discount store intercom--by far, the most lively part of that movie).

It's actually something I've always wanted to do. I think I'd make a great casting director. With my gigantic mental dossier of famous--and not so famous--names and faces and my passion for film and characters on film, I'd be awesome!! I could be the next Billy Hopkins (Casting Director for "True Romance," "The Rock" and "Se7en") or Don Phillips ("Dazed and Confused"). That would absolutely, positively be a dream job of mine!!

I remember when I'd go out of town with my dad on business, I'd name off our favorite comic book characters or characters from our favorite novels and we'd discuss who would play them. We (okay...I...hey, after a while, even my dad needs a break from my non-stop motormouth) would do this for hours on end. Before he became the big star that he is today, I suggested to my parents that George Clooney would be a terrific Batman and they were like, "naaaaahhhh!!" [Blogger's Note: to this day, I'm convinced that had he not been handed that shitty-ass,
Ev'rybody FREEEEZE!!, "Batman & Robin" script from Akiva Goldsman and not been directed by hack extraordinaire, Joel Schumacher, he would have, hands-down, kicked ass as the caped crusader!! Though, he still wouldn't have topped Michael Keaton, wherever he is...may his career rest in peace] Though, I think we can all agree that I may have hit a low point when I actually suggested that Freddie Prinze, Jr. would have made an "awesome" Spider Man!! And I wasn't even smoking pot at that time!! What the hell was my excuse for coming up with that one?!

Speaking of your friendly neighborhood spidey, my mom still says I remind her of Tobey Maguire and that he could play me in a movie. While she isn't the first person to mention that, I don't really see it. Then again, some people have told me that Danny DeVito, (douche bags!), that dwarf kid from "Simon Birch" (jackasses!!) and Corky from Life Goes On (um, jerks!!) could play me, so I'll take the Tobey comparisons where I can get 'em.

Moving on, when I was talking to Courtney, I listed off a few actors who could play me:

  • Seth Rogan ("Knocked Up")
  • Samm Levin (Freaks & Geeks)
  • Adam Brody (The OC)
  • Jason Biggs ("American Pie")
But then, later on, I got to thinking, I think the only person who could play me in a movie would truly, honestly be--you guessed it!!--me. Lord knows, I can act (even though I fucked up on my Acting II final by forgetting my lines--hey, it was my first time smoking from a bong, the night before!! How the hell was I supposed to know that could happen?! Somewhere, the great acting director and innovator, Konstantin Stanislavski, must have been rolling in his grave) as Theater was my minor in college.

I know this probably sounds like a dickhead, arrogant thing to say but I really don't think any other actor could truly play me. At best, it might be a decent imitation (like Will Smith in "Ali!"), but let's face it--it wouldn't be me. For obvious and not so obvious reasons.

The most glaring obstacle facing them would be the high voice/low voice thing. Yes, it's true, I have both a deep, masculine voice and a high, girlie voice. Don't ask me why. Seriously. I have no idea. It's not even a Truman Capote voice. It's like an honest-to-G-d chick voice. It happens most often when I get excited or nervous. It also happens if I stop thinking about it. It's kind of annoying, at times, but I've really gotten use to it and it does have its advantages. Maybe I'll write about it another time (yyyyyyeah, right!) in greater detail.

Another hurdle would be that I have very particular mannerisms that really can't be mimicked. Some might say I'm a bit effeminate (okay...a lot of people might say that), but not so much that people would think that I'm gay or anything like that (which would be an incorrect assumption if they did--not that there's anything wrong with it. Then again, I do have that hetero male crush on Hugh Jackman, so who knows, right?). It's very much a happy medium between feminine and masculine (bring on the he-she comment, because I know they're coming!!). If any other actor tried to do it, I think they'd either play all of my quirks for laughs or exaggerate them to the point where they'd be a distraction throughout the whole movie.

No, I would definitely play me in a movie. Hey, I'm way hotter than Howard Stern (oh, no I didn't!!!) and if he's allowed to play himself, why the hell can't I, right?!

Besides, when it comes to H-Def, accept no substitutes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Special

"If I were retarded, you'd tell me, right?"

That's the question I asked my dad while we were at the gym, a few days ago. This was followed by a very loud snort, which was then followed by a hearty guffaw.

His answer: "We all have our deficiencies, Hal."

Not quite the concrete answer I was looking for, but true enough. The thing is, there are times when I really wonder if I'm retarded. No, not in the derogatory why are you so retarded?! type of way. No, I literally mean mentally-challenged, "special."

Which leads me to ask a question: Do mentally retarded people know they're mentally retarded?

There are so many things that I don't know about that a lot of other people with less education know about. And this is no insult to them, but sometimes I wonder why my brain just didn't absorb all of the stuff that theirs absorbed. Am I slow? What's the deal?!

I mean, let's take computers for example. I am constantly asking Derek if the simplest thing like, oh, say, putting a disc or something into my new laptop will break it. He just stares at me long and hard and says, "of course not!" like I'm some mongoloid.

Another prime example of me possibly being a short bus candidate occurred just today. I was bored and drawing on my hand (that's a hint all by itself!!!) when my pen (one of those fancy fountain pens!!!!) dribbled some ink onto this really bad cut I got from when I was chopping tomatoes the other day. I looked over to Christina and I asked her, holding my finger out, "AM I GONNA GET INK POISONING?!?!"

Her response: "Yes, yes you will." Turd.

The truth of the matter is that most of my deficiencies or lack of knowledge about everyday things have less to do with being stupid or retarded than it does about me being paranoid, afraid. It's true! I'm terribly afraid of things breaking or getting sick or even just good ol' death!!

I think that will be another goal for me, for the second half of '07. I need to learn to stop sweating the small stuff or, at the very least, accept that there are some things that are beyond my control (there's that Plan thing again, eh?). I also need to start researching things that get me so high strung. The more I learn about things like computers and various illnesses or whatever, the less "deficiencies" I'll have, the less likely I might be to freak out about them and feel retarded later on.

And wouldn't that be special.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pins & Needles

It's like that impossible itch that you just can't scratch.

I find myself constantly wondering what's missing in my life. It's like, I can feel an absence of some sort and yet, I'm not sure what it is and what it will take to fill that void. I mean, I'm pretty happy with myself, at this point in my life. And yet, I'm not sure I'm happy with where I am in life.

Truth be told, I have no idea what to do with myself, sometimes ('course, I'm sure there are a few of you out there that could tell me without hesitation)!! I'm on schpilkes (yiddish for "pins and needles"), dammit!!

In elementary school, I recall staring out the windows, into the distance, wondering when I would get to explore what was out there. I didn't really have a particular destination. I just always would imagine what it would be like to just drive and drive and drive into that great beyond, that line in the distance where the sky touches the earth (yes, that was me trying to use word pictures. Sorry. I'll keep it to a minimum, but you caught my drift, didn't you?)

For a while now, I've felt as if life were passing me by and the thing of it is, I don't know how to stop it. There are moments when I wish I could just freeze time (like Hiro Nakamura on "Heroes," only without that icky constipated look on my face), just so I could have a moment to breathe and figure out what it is I'm supposed to be doing and I could take my attention away from all of the more successful people passing me by.

But it doesn't work like that. You have to act and you have to act fast, otherwise, you're screwed and stranded in a place that's worst than the proverbial "square one. That is, you're stuck, stranded in the middle of your own life with nowhere to go.

And that scares the hell out of me!!

I want to live a fulfilling life. I want to do well, be successful. Over the course of the last year or so, I've given it a lot of thought about what I need to do, what changes need to be made, in order to do just that.

I've been wanting to move for some time now. Where to? Well, the first choice would still be Minneapolis as one of my best friends, Matteo, lives there. The second location would be the Scottsdale/Phoenix area in AZ, since my best friend growing up, David, lives there. The fact that he still lives with his parents and needs to get the hell out of dodge, I'm sure, has nothing to do with his constant nagging. Nothing to do with it at all! Option number three is the City of Brotherly Love itself, Philly. I have some friends living there that I met, and have been talking to, online for a few years now.

The thing is, I keep thinking that if I move somewhere else, all of my problems will suddenly evaporate by crossing an imaginary state line. And, to a degree, I think it would help me learn how to really live my life the way I want to live it. That is, on my own terms and by my rules and standards. But would moving really make me happy?

What will make me happy?

I mean, yeah, there are things in my life that do make me happy: Cooking, movies, hanging out with my best friends..."Buffy" reruns. All that stuff.

And yet, if I were to die today, would I be able to say, man, oh man!! I lived a happy life?? And I gotta be honest, at this moment, I don't know if I could answer that with a wholehearted "yes." I think that, for as many great things that have happened in my life, a lot of shitty things have happened as well.

Wouldn't it be awesome if life were like a movie in the sense that, once you finally hit that highest high point in your life or discovered that glimmer of hope you're looking for, everything would just fade to black right on that high note and the credits could roll with an upbeat pop song (like "Come Sail Away" by Styx!!). I've often wondered, up to this point in my life, what that moment would be for me. What, so far, has been the defining moment of my life?

What's been your high point, readers? The defining moment in your life?

And yet, here I am: No fading to black, no rolling credits. I'm 26 years old and I've done nothing, as of yet, to significantly contribute to society and I still haven't traveled into the horizon like I imagined doing as a child.

But just as I have been of late, I remain positive, optimistic.

We're into round two of 2007, my lease goes up at the end of September and my plan, as I mentioned, is to move. Now, beyond that point, do I have a clear goal, objective or picture of what the future holds in the near (and distant) future?

Nah. But I need to do something.

It's an impossible itch, trying to figure out what you want, what you need.

Sometimes, though, you have to at least make the effort to scratch at it by reaching further than you've ever reached before...

***

And now, for a bit of shameless self-congratulations...

They said it couldn't be done (well, no one ever actually said that. Not to my face anyway. Fuckers)!!! We've reached the 50-entry mark!! YAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!! Okay. I'm, um, done now. Thank you!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Case of the Smiling Asshole

I'm starting to realize that people think I'm an asshole. And it makes me smile.

Now, I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression here. It's not my intention to make people believe that I'm some jackass because, really, I don't think I am. I simply smile because all of my life, I've worked so hard trying to make people like me.
As I've mentioned all along, I'm a people pleaser. I like to make people smile, laugh and nod their head at me in jubilant adoration.

And trust me...it's a lot of work to keep that up.

As I've gotten older, however, I've started getting used to the notion that some people, no matter what I do, are just not going to like me. It's taken me a long time to get that, to come to terms with that.

What can I say? Things I do, things I say just rub some people the wrong way. And I'll admit, I do suffer from chronic Foot in Mouth Syndrome.

Case in point: I nearly got lynched when I told this one group of people (okay, a few of my more easily incensed friends and co-workers) that I hate walk-a-thons. What is the point of a walk-a-thon??? Why do we have to walk to raise money?
I mean, don't get me wrong, I think fund raisers and charities are extremely important. I absolutely admire people who cut their hair for cancer patients. I think Jerry Lewis is a saint (albeit a Jewish saint) for keeping his muscular dystrophy telethon going for so long (and it bugs me when people shit on it by making light of such a good cause). Hell, I believe that anyone who participates in and donates any of their hard-earned cash to any sort of charity is downright heroic and commands a great deal of my respect.

But wouldn't it be quicker and far more efficient if we just gave the scientists, or whomever is is charge of looking for the cure, our money, rather than just...walking?! I mean, here's my money! You can have it! I want to help!! I just don't want to walk!! What's the problem?!

I don't get it.

Anyway, people just don't get this particular viewpoint. In fact, for reasons I'm still not quite sure of, most people think I'm this self-centered dickhead for taking that stance and their sparkling opinion will never change.

I have this friend. His name is Joe. He is, quite possibly, the most rude, crass prick I've ever known. One out of every two people I introduce him to thinks he's, well, Satan's spawn. But ya know what? I think he's awesome. Why? Because he knows he's all of the above and he just doesn't care. He is who he is. He says what he wants to say and you can love him or you can hate him, but you will not control him or censor him. He's true to himself and he could give two shits if you're offended by what he says or if you like him.

I respect that. I admire that. I don't always agree with what he says and I think he can be a total--what was the word?--ass hat, but there's something invigorating about standing next to someone who doesn't live, die or lose sleep based on what other people think of him. It does my soul good knowing there are people out there like that. Let me just say this, though: I will never, ever be that person. I care too much. I do. I'll admit it.

It's funny. I remember how I use to tell people that my biggest goal was to get through each day without getting hurt or hurting someone else. Upon reflection, that's the biggest crock o' shit I've probably ever cooked up. I mean, seriously...who says that?!?! Besides, as a goal, it pretty unrealistic, not to mention ridiculous.

It's a huge world and, in it, we--all five billion of us and counting--are all connected at various degrees (just ask Kevin Bacon). At the same time, though, each individual is different. So, the way I see it, with so many different personalities, there is no possible way one can walk through a 24-hour block without hurting anyone or getting hurt in some way, shape or form. It's impossible.

And yes, it's pointless to constantly sweat over whether people like you or not.


Try and try as I might to be a funny, charming, altogether good person, t
here are people out there that will always hate my guts and, yes, even wish me bodily harm. And that's okay. It's not something I take pride in or that I'm ecstatic about, but at the same time, I'm learning that the only thing that I can do is work on being the best Hal possible without losing whatever it is that makes me, well, me.

That, and being willing to accept in equal measures whatever hatred is shed upon me as well as good will and love...both with open arms.

And, yes, a smile.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bed, Back and Beyond...

I freakin' love my queen bed. I do. It is seriously one of the greatest things, like, ever.

Okay. I know what y'all are thinking: you're 26!! You should have deep-sixed that fucking twin bed when you turned 21 (wait, wait, wait!! You're telling me that alcohol makes people want to have sex?! Really?!) or, at the very least, when you moved out of your parents'!!!

Well, that's probably true, but that didn't happen. So, there's, like, no use in, ya know, dwelling (who...me?!).

So, I gotta say, the bed has pretty much changed my whole life, at this point--and NOT because I have to write out a sizable check to my parents every month for the next, oh, several months. No, it's...I dunno. It's just a different feeling, I guess.

The bed is just so damn comfy!! I get home and the first thing I do is just curl up into a fetal position on my bed. Now, don't go worrying your pretty little heads that I'm depressed or some shit like that. No, I like curling into a ball because, well, I've never really been able to do that on my twin. In fact, there are a lot of things I was never able to do on the twin (shaddup, pervs!!). I may as well have been sleeping on a friggin' graham cracker, as fragile and tiny as it was. And just to slightly amp up the insane factor on my part, occasionally--not always, but occasionally--I kind of like to just roll around on my new bed, just to revel in the fact that, yep, it's a bigger bed!!

I tell ya, people: simple pleasures!! They're what it's all about!!

Another nice thing about the new bed is that I can have a drink while I'm sitting. Before, due to the way the bed was positioned, I'd have to extend my arm, like, really super far!! That's a lot of work, ya know?!?! Now, because my bed is closer to my nightstand/desk, thank goodness, those days of reaching for the impossible drink are behind me!! Being a lush has never been so easy!!

Ah, yes, a life of luxury I live!!

Not only that, but now my fears of having future back problems have been alleviated as I now no longer have to hunch over my lap top on my bed. Instead, I can drape my tubby form across my bed and type to my little heart's content without worrying about my spinal column jamming it's way up into my skull and/or twisting about, poking its way into my rectal area. Alway an added bonus, if you ask me.

So, yeah, having a new bed is nice.
That's really, um, all I had to say. I just kind of wanted to brag for a little while. Hey, who says I can't be shallow?!

Besides, sometimes, profundity can be so overrated!!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

To Anonymous...

Listen, this is not a hate blog. I am not about to lower this wonderful thing that has helped me in the last few months into the trench of negativity that you seem to enjoy wallowing in.

I'm not. I did it once. I'm not going to do it again.

The purpose of this entry is mainly to say this: It's over. We are all adults here. The people who posted comments against you, Anonymous, are not just readers, but personal friends of mine. As harsh and profane as their words were, they were simply coming to my defense because that is what good friends do. And I know you know this. Because that is exactly what you are doing: you are defending a friend. And for that, I commend you. It's a very admirable quality to have, loyalty.

But in this case, it's completely unnecessary.

Look, I know who you are, okay? I'm not stupid (well, okay...I'm a little stupid at math, but that's beside the point). And if I'm wrong, at the very least, I know what you're about. If I were writing about anyone else, you wouldn't care. What I write, though, when I write about your friend, is not meant to be taken as an offense. It's simply me doing what I do: Writing as a form of healing. You (and your friend) have total control over whether or not you read my blog.

I really don't see what reason you have for being so hateful toward me. I don't know what your rationale is for calling me a "pussy" or telling me that I need to grow testicles when you are the one who is not owning up to your own mean-spirited remarks. And the fact is, you write these terrible, horrible things about me; judgments about who you think I am, what you think that I'm about. And the truth is this: You don't know me and you never will.

At this very moment in your life, there are three things that you need. You really
need to grow up and let this one go. You also need to face the fact that I am going to write whatever I'm going to write and no matter what kind of silly, hateful comments you send my way, you will have absolutely, positively no control over that. None. Zero. Zilch. Lastly, you need to know that you are not going to tear me down. Ever.

What you may not know is that, all along, I've been using the comment modification feature on this blog of mine. For those not in the know, this feature lets you weed out comments you like and dislike by accepting them or rejecting them. Up until this point, I have accepted your comments, allowed them to stand.

That ends now.

So, write what you want to write, but unless you sign your name, Anonymous, I will not post your comment.

That's all I've got.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Parting Gift

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog addressing three individual people. They were people who had, in my mind--at the time, anyway--wronged me in some way, shape or form. The first person I reamed was totally undeserving of such hostility. The second person absolutely had it coming!! The third person, well, it's complicated.

The third person was The Girl.

Now, before I get any of those inevitable eye-rolls, let me just say that this is not going to be another woe is me entry. I promise. I think I've pretty much cashed in all of my "woe" cards, these last few months (check out March's "The Odd-yssey" for further proof, thank you very much). Even I have to admit, while this Neurotica enterprise (hahaha) of mine has only lasted for about three months--if that!--looking back at some of these entries, I wince. Not because the entries are particularly painful to read, but it's more of a wince of recognition and nostalgia on par with watching old home movies.

No, I'm going to address the issue of The Girl and that will be the end of it.

There's a reason I haven't written anything in great detail about...Her (well, the emotional aspect of it anyway. I've talked about the situation itself a couple of times) until now. Truth be known, I'm actually pretty surprised I've held out for so long, me being the open book that I am. Anyway, many of my friends did that whole, "dude...if you write something, you're going to look weak. She's going to think you're not over her. Be strong." At first, I agreed with this, um logic (?) But as time has worn on, it's just annoyed the shit out of me that I haven't been able to write about the one thing I've really wanted to write about; the biggest, most important thing to happen to me in quite some time--a turning point, a game-changer, if you will--for fear of looking "weak." Really, why is it that writing about your feelings, especially if they're honest feelings, is weak? Here's the bigger question to ask: What do I care if you think I look weak, especially when I've come to realize, over time, that despite my often self-deprecating rants, I'm anything but?

But I digress.

I haven't spoken to her in over two months. And it's strange. When we last spoke, there was no ill will thrown in either direction or arguments. In fact, for a little while, we were handling ourselves pretty well as friends, ostensibly. But that was the problem. As "friends," there was that something-something missing. It was sort of like this steely, cold, emotionless, pod-people version of friendship. And that wasn't really anyone's fault. We just weren't meant to be anything but what we were before, brief as it was.

A few weeks ago, upon the release of Rufus' new CD, I recall reading one of The Girl's blog entries, where she wrote about how music can be this powerful force, triggering wonderful memories and, well, unwanted memories. And the things is, once I was able to look past some of her somewhat negative remarks about me, I found myself floored by how accurate and spot-on her words were. There are songs that I just can't bring myself to listen to. The memories, while I will cherish them forever, are ones that I just don't have the desire to play back in my head anymore. They're there, sure. They always will be, but really...who has the time and, unless you're a masochist, why would you want to constantly relive an experience that started out as the ultimate joy ride, but quickly turned into the ultimate dead end. Life's too short.

But sometimes, one can find themselves in the dreaded role of Captive Audience Member. Such as it was this last Saturday afternoon, when I was on the stair master. Everything was hunky -dory, when all of a sudden, a movie that, at first, struck a chord of nervous, giddy excitement inside me, quickly morphed into nausea, tears and anxiety. The movie was "Deep Blue Sea." It's about killer mutant sharks. And because of one special moment in my life, it will always represent something more than it's schlock origins. Anyway, check it out. Fun movie.

I won't lie: I get sad, sometimes. I do. Not all of the time. In fact, most times, I'm pretty damned happy.

I love this person that I've become: The novice cook...the faithless man who now believes there's a Higher Power with a Plan...the risk-taker who goes out and buys a Rufus Wainwright concert ticket for a different city, even when he knows he's going to have to face his greatest fear of getting lost along the way when he drives there by himself (okay...I just had to throw that one out there!!), the once-burned-out writer arisen from the ashes.

And there are parts of me that wish I had been this person all along, ya know? Sometimes, I think to myself, maybe if I had just been more self-sufficient, secure with myself, more passionate and motivated and willing to accept changes...maybe--just maybe--I'd still be with her. But therein lies the somewhat tragic paradox to that particular "what if." See, over the course of the last three months, I've come to a conclusion--and I've had help along the way to get there--that makes me nod my head in respect to the power of fate, destiny...whatever you want to call it. And the conclusion, so simple, is this:

I would not have reached the great heights I've reached these last few months if I were still in my relationship with The Girl.

It's true. I would have continued going over to my parents every day, eating their food. I would never have learned to cook for myself; instead, depending on others. I probably would never have gone back to synagogue because, really, I felt I was king of my own little self-involved world. Who needed G-d? The world revolved around me. Hell, the blog you're reading, right now? Think it would be on your screen, right now? Think again.

The truth is, I needed to be hurt, I needed the pain to give me the ability to step outside myself and see what, I'm sure, everyone else had been seeing for a very, very long time. Having my heart broken is, I think, one of the most humbling experiences I have ever undergone. Seriously!! It knocks you down and strips you down to your most emotionally vulnerable, exposed state.

But my G-d...I have learned so much about who I am and what I'm made of. I may not be the strongest person in the world, emotionally and certainly not physically, but if this experience has taught me anything, it's this: Sometimes, learning to how to live is the only way to survive. And sometimes, to survive, you have to lose.

So, with that, I will end this entry with something that, three months ago, I never thought I'd have the strength to say:

Now, moving on...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Have A Little Faith In Me...

So, first off, I'm done with my little All Rufus, All the Time streak I've been on for the last couple of weeks or so.

Indeed, today, I'm writing about something that I've been hesitant about putting out there for the world (or, at least, the ten of you who read this), if only because I'm afraid that once I write about it, it will get picked apart and/or it won't be taken seriously. What can I say? I can be a bit insecure regarding certain things (who, me?!).

Anyway, here I go: In the course of two months, my spirituality has been restored. I know, it sounds ├╝berdramatic and I'm sure that most people will probably laugh it off, chalk it up to Hal, but it's true.

As always, let's take it back a bit (I swear...sometimes my blogs are like TV shows, where they go, like, "Previously...on 'Lost'").

If you recall, in an entry dating back to March 12 ("Shul Ties"), I wrote about how I had gone with a friend to Shul (synagogue) while I was staying for a weekend in Minneapolis. It was there that I was bitten by the religion bug, instilling within me a desire to get more spiritual. In spite of myself, I wanted to have my faith restored.

My biggest hurdle to overcome was pretty simple: Myself. In light of the fact that I have to work weekends at my job, I would work Saturdays and on Sundays, I go to my parents house to get my laundry done.

Here's the thing. All my life, I've avoided any type of change as if it were the plague. I hate change, the concept of New and Improved, Different. So, as you could imagine, the idea of nixing my three-year system of waking up at noon, shuttling my car a mile down the road at 12:30 (sorry, 12:35! Inside joke!) and spending the day with my parents was, well, less than desirable.

But in the last four months, I've been embracing the notion of change, any sort of deviation from systems. In fact, I try to avoid systems, patterns. I mean, yeah, I still have traditions like Friday Night Chinese with the folks or Wednesday night's dinner and a movie (or hitting the Quorum bar in Bellevue) with Christina, but I don't feel compelled to cook something every Tuesday for someone. I don't go to my parents' every single day and I no longer clean every Thursday (when do I clean??? Whenever it's dirty or messy. I just sort clean as I along),

Speaking of messy, my life is pretty disorderly, these days, but in a way that's fun, exciting and, for the first time (seriously...like, ever), spontaneous. There's a pleasant surprise around every corner and, instead of running in the opposite direction, I stop, throw my arms out (Think Tim Robbins in "The Shawshank Redemption") and let it hit me head-on.

But that's not what this entry is about. That's a topic that could take up at least, well, all future entries. It's too much, too broad a topic for one simple entry. It'd be like trying to shoehorn three villains into a two-and-a-half-hour movie (oh, wait...!!).

No, this entry is about my spirituality and faith in G-d being restored.

So, with the notion that Change is Good fixed firmly in my brain, I decided, with the new schedule bid at work, to revamp my weekend schedule, changing my days off from being Sundays and Mondays to Fridays and Saturday. Doing that, I had to make a bit of a compromise. In order to go to shul on Saturdays, I have to be into work on Sundays at 6 a.m. Now, I'll make this clear: waking up at 5 a.m. is not my favorite thing in the world to do. In fact, I pretty much despise and dread doing it every week. At the same time, though, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, because I know that it's for a good cause.

On Saturdays, I wake up at 9am (OK...9:15), put my suit on, grab my Tallis bag and I drive to Beth El synagogue. I go there and, no pun intended, I'm overcome with this heavenly feeling as soon as I sit down in that sanctuary. All of the drama I've faced during the previous week, all of the angst and sadness and whatever...for two or three hours, it just melts away. And the thing is, I'm not the best when it comes to reading Hebrew, I don't always know what it means when I'm reading it, but I do know this: I feel better leaving shul than I did upon entering it. It's a feeling of peace. It's like I'm given a fresh start to do better, to be better.

And I love the people that go to my synagogue.

At first, I was really nervous about how people would react to me just, ya know, showing up. I was afraid that the they would look down upon me for not having been there for so long or that they would look at me and think, IMPOSTOR!!! Another fear is that I would totally do something "wrong" or "incorrect" and I would get yelled at. Hey, those were the fears I had, founded or unfounded.

Luckily for me, all of my fears were for naught. Everyone has really embraced my presence. It was so funny. The third Saturday I was there, a luncheon was held and I was invited to sit with an old doctor of mine and his wife. I'm sitting there and this sweet old lady sitting across from me, after we're introduced, says to me: "I've seen you here the last couple of weeks or so." I was really taken aback. I replied, "Seriously? In all of these people, you noticed me?" The doctor looks at me and says, very matter-of-fact, "people notice."

Apparently.

Since that day, I've really tried to plunge myself head-first into the congregation, introducing myself, putting names with faces, sitting down with them, talking with them. It's so nice. All this time, I've been denying myself this wholly fulfilling--spiritually and socially--experience of going to shul and just embracing my Judaism. I love it. In fact, I'm thinking about joining the Rabbi's class, so I can learn more about my religion or, at the very least, refresh my knowledge.

It's so funny. The moment I realized that my faith, my belief in G-d was truly restored, I was giving love advice to a friend. I said to them, "There's a reason why you got together in the first place and there's a reason why you broke up. If you're meant to be together, then you'll be together. G-d has a plan."

I couldn't believe I had said it. Two years ago, if anyone had told me that, I would have punched them in the mouth or, at least, the ear. But there it was, natural and unforced.

I couldn't help but smile.

And the thing is, I'm not going to say I'm this SuperJew. I'm not. Far from it. At this point, I probably haven't even skimmed the surface yet. But you've got to start somewhere.

My main fear is that, like so many other things in my life, it will turn out to be a passing phase and, on one Saturday morning, I won't hop out of bed like I've been doing, these last two months. I'm afraid that I'll think to myself, Eh...what's the point?
And I'll be honest...it's happened before. There's always the potential for it to happen again.

But as a certain pop mega star once sang...


Yes I've gotta have faith...
Mmm, I gotta have faith
'Cause I gotta have faith, faith, faith,
Mm 'cause I gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith