Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bar Mitzvah Boy

I hate going to Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. They depress me to no end.

For all the ignorant, uneducated pricks out there, A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a rite of passage for a young Jewish boy or girl, respectively--usually at the age of 13--where they must, among other things, read a portion of the Torah (if I have to explain to you what the latter is, then I beg of you to discontinue reading my blog because, well, I don't know any other way to tell you this, but you're fuckin' stupid) in front of the congregation. Once a boy or girl has their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they are considered adults in the eyes of Judaism. It is usually followed by a party--dinner, dancing and LIMBO!!--in the evening.

I remember my Bar Mitzvah all to well. After all, it was one of the best days of my life. It was like a roller coaster ride of kudos, smiles, pats on the back, handshakes, singing and dancing (and LIMBO!!). It was one whole day--nay, weekend--of family, friends, teachers...all there for me!! It didn't hurt that I flat-out nailed my Torah portion and just knocked the socks off the congregation with my angelic (read: still very prebubescent and high-pitched. Ya know what they say: The more things change...) singing voice.

It was truly a triumphant and happy weekend for me, the weekend of my Bar Mitzvah. It was like I was this golden child.
I, as well as everyone around me, was so full of hope for me; that I would be this successful, responsible Jew, let alone a responsible adult. And then the weekend ended. And then life happened.

As the saying goes, I never knew what hit me.

Let's see: There were the
the sexuality issues, the drinking, the drugs, the smoking and, yes, the meaningless sex (okay, so the last one wasn't nearly as frequent as the others, but still...!!!). I have done bad things to myself...no doubt about it. Things I know that my 13-year-old self would have never imagined doing. Things beyond his comprehension.

And I am embarrassed!!!

I wish I could go back in time and just talk to him, look at him and say..."I know things seem really cool, right now. And you're on the highest of highs, at this moment in time. People are just loving you, right now. But things can get dark in a second. You are going to have many, many fork-in-the road moments within the next 13 years. No matter how hard the choice is, no matter how much fun you think you're going to have, no matter how square and dorky you think you're going to be, just please....do the right thing. Don't be an idiot and just do the right fucking thing. We can be great. We can be so great. Just try your best. And oh, yeah...even if you think your parents are wrong about 99% of everything, just listen to them. They know what they're talking about and they know what they're doing. For the most part. I think."

But that's not a reality. It's a fantasy, a beautiful dream. We play the hands we are dealt. Sometimes, we have a bad hand and bluff and make our own luck. Sometimes, we have a good hand and we still lose. But my life has constantly been one long case of having these great, amazing hands...and then folding; sometimes, out of fear, cowardice and on other occasions, just out of shear stupidity.

But hey, I'm still in the game.

And I know that while my day of innocence as a Bar Mitzvah boy has long since passed, I will never, ever stop trying to do right by that young man standing on the bimah (pulpit) on April 23, 1994, smiling, taking that deep breath and ready to take that plunge into adulthood.

...And yet, as I mentioned, I still hate going to Bar and Bat Mitzvahs because, despite the good eats at the end (hey, what's not to like about bagels, cream cheese and lox after a hearty helping of Saturday morning prayers, right?!?!), they depress me.

I just look at those innocent, hopeful faces up there, standing where I stood, many moons ago, and I see so much of myself in them; when the glass was never a drop below the half-full mark. And each time, a single thought crosses my mind: when times of darkness and temptation fall upon them, which road will they go down?

And it's then, in that moment, that I pray to G-d.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Daddy's Little Girl

As crude and vulgar and crass as this is going to sound (and I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty much All Of the Above at times), I was going to write a whiny blog about how I was sexually frustrated that I pretty much can't masturbate anymore, now that I have a kitten at my place.

I was going to.

That is, until I started watching her play as I was getting onto Blogger.

Oh, well. Maybe I'll write that one another time.

Right now, I just want to write about how I love my little girl. After all, it's not everyday that I'm able to write about something so utterly lacking in the way of cynicism and sarcasm. And that something would be my love for Miss Lillie.

I know that in my last entry, Hurricane Lillie, I came across as being a bit of an anal-retentive curmudgeon--think Jack Nicholson's Melvin Udall in "As Good As It Gets"--but in the course of three weeks, I have grown to love her as fiercely as I can love anyone or anything. Truth be known, she has become, in no uncertain terms, my daughter.

I love coming home after work and seeing her little head pop up from my easy chair, where she'd been previously sleeping. It makes me absolutely melt when she jumps from the chair and starts "meowing" at me and following me around. I laugh my ass off when she starts chasing the little carrying strap on my leather cell phone case or starts jumping up and down like a Mexican jumping bean. And yes, I am grateful for every single moment that she sleeps in my lap or curls up on my (chiseled washboard) belly while I sleep.

It's an amazing thing to have something so little offer something so great as unconditional love.

Yes, I may have moments where I freak out and I don't know to do. And yeah, I'd be lying if I said that I know everything I need to know about being the owner of a baby kitten. I don't. G-d only knows, my vet must love me. I called her at least five times, last week. Hey, she knows what family I come from!!

No, the truth is, much like so many other facets of my life, I tend to be pretty clueless when it comes to taking care of Lillie. But two things I do know: For better or for worse, she's the best thing to happen to me in quite some time. That, and she's stuck with me. Because I wouldn't give her up for the world.

You know, it's funny...for a while, I thought of her as a storm, throwing my whole world into total upheaval. And while having a cat has certainly been an adjustment, she's quite the opposite of a storm.

She may very well be my shelter.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hurricane Lillie

The storm has come...and its--or rather, her--name is Lillie.

Let it be known that I have never, ever been a cat person. I've always much preferred dogs. The latter are so friendly and affectionate; their love unconditional!! Cats, to me, have always been bitchy and confrontational; I've always felt like I needed to dance for them (no, not literally--that would be weird. And sad.)

So, it came as quite a surprise when, about a month ago, a dear friend of mine (you know who you are) suggested to me that I get a cat and I actually found myself quite open-minded about the idea. Yet, part of me was of an insincere, yeah..I should do that someday frame of mind, the ultimate "definite maybe."

If this were a movie, there would be a cut to black, with a white title card reading "Two Weeks Later."

Last Tuesday, I found myself reluctantly, cautiously taking Lillie--a black Tabby with gray stripes--home with me for the first time. On the drive home, I was all too aware, with each passing "meow", er, minute, that my life had just gotten a lot more complicated. A 20-Year Commitment complicated.

Needless to say, I was freaking out.

The first few days were rough-going for me. She would just get into all of my shit!! And for those who know me on a more personal level, that's a big no-no (hell, I get pissed off when people start drinking my fuckin' Simply Orange juice, let alone walking on top of my lap top, for crying out loud!!) She would wake me up, every morning, at 6 a.m. (oh, no! Not that!) and get all frisky on the bed (SHADDUUUUP!!!), scratching at my duvet (what would Tyler Durden say about that?!), trying to nip at me, scratch at me.

Think "Turner & Hooch," but with whiskers. Or don't. Wait! Better yet, think "K-9," that other '80s dog/buddy/cop movie with Jim Belushi--but with whiskers!! Or don't.

I'm going to be completely honest. As horrible and pathetic and irresponsible as this is going to sound, I wanted to get rid of her. I looked for every excuse in the book (her claws are sharp; she's biting; she tripped me and made me fall on my face!! You know...real somebody call the wahhhh-mbulence! shit) to take her to the Humane Society and put her up for adoption or just give her to a loving family. Last Thursday, the day I was originally supposed to get her declawed, as I drove off, I'll admit it. I was relieved to have her out of my hair, so to speak. And then the vet's office called me and told me they couldn't perform the operation because she had a cold. I was angry and really pissed that I didn't have a night off and I was going to have to sacrifice another night with this fur ball.

Yeah, I know I sound like an asshole (more than usual!!), but keep reading, 'kay?

Another habit I got into was having
friends come over every night to hang out so I wouldn't be alone with Lillie, as if having people over would alleviate my fears and anxiety of having to take care of something other than my own damn self. And it worked.

Until Friday...when it didn't.

Friday night was definitely the turning point for me 'n' Miss Lillie Pad. That was the night where it was just she and I...all by ourselves. I decided to just have a night of relaxation and watch a movie. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, popped in "Fight Club" (speaking of Mr. Durden) and turned the lights off. I grabbed Lillie, put her on my lap and pet her while she slept and we just chilled. I watched the movie. She slept in my lap.

It was just about perfect.
It was really quite a lovely night.

At 6 a.m., the next morning, I was lying on my side when she woke me up and started going into Ape Shit Mode like she always does around that time when, for about 20 seconds, she stopped...and looked me in the eye. It was like she was studying me. I met her eyes and held her gaze. It was then that I realized, I love this little girl. She's mine and I am not going to let anything happen to her.

It was just so clear to me. It was like some of the other epiphanies I've had, as of late. I knew in that moment, when she and I looked at each other, eye to eye, that if I just fucking learned to get over myself, this 20-Year Commitment could be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Or the worst. Who knows? Either way, I knew that this cat wasn't going anywhere!!

And then she scratched my cornea with her claw. But that's beside the point.

I will tell you this, in the last few days, what with her crawling up my suit pants, up my shirt and perching herself atop my shoulder, playing with her catnip mouse toy and trying to eat my beard (a shiny nickel to the person who can find the most jokes out of that last one), I have found myself smiling and laughing out loud by myself for the first time in a very, very long time. Usually, I'm an avid brooder when I'm by myself. Not so much in the last week, though. I've been smiling much more often than not.

And that, dear readers, is nothin' but good news.

A couple of days ago, on Tuesday, I took her in, once again, to get declawed. When I left her, this time, I couldn't help but feel sad and regretful and worried. I wanted my baby back. And, of course, I will. I visited her today (er, technically, yesterday) and the vet did an amazing job and I'll get her back on Friday afternoon.

Without a hint of irony or insincerity, I will say the following: I cannot wait for my baby to get home.

Yes, the storm has arrived and is upon me now...and her name is Lillie.

I can't wait to face her head on.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Happy to Be Negative

Yeah, it's been a busy couple of weeks, so my apologies for not writing as frequently.

I guess I've just been fairly pre-occupied with Hal issues. Remember the storm I was talking about? Well, it came. Or, at least, one of them. More on that, er, her later...

So, by popular demand (you know who you are... ;oP), I will address the following issue from a few weeks back: I got the STD results back from the doctor's office and they said, well, there's only one way to say this, folks. They said (for all of you "West Side Story" fans, out there)...


Yes, that's right!! I am free to have as much sex as I want now, without the sweat-inducing fear of injecting diseased DNA into my partner. Woo-hoo!!


Actually, I can pretty much guarantee that I won't be having sex again for awhile. After all, as I mentioned in "Ewwww La La," the future Mrs. Hal is out there, somewhere, and sex is never, ever going to be the method to my mad search.


Okay. Perhaps I'm being a bit too hasty in saying "never, ever." Listen, I know I've taken the "No Sex" vow--very Josh Hartnett of me, no?--but maybe, I dunno...maybe sex isn't so bad. I mean, yeah, I don't need sex, but who really does, right? I mean, besides nymphos. And nuns.

And yeah, I know it's pretty lame that I'm backing out of my own self-imposed rule, but what can I say? I'm human and I have needs and desires just like everyone else. At the same time, though, I plan on using a little more discretion in terms of who I choose to do the deed with (as opposed to bumping uglies with the first broad that's ready and willing--which, admittedly, isn't very often at all. And yes, I realize I just used the word "broad." Because apparently, I've time-traveled back to the '30s). It's like the old saying goes, just because ya can...doesn't mean ya should. Or something.

Then again, on the flipside, that doesn't mean ya shouldn't. Sometimes, doing the wrong thing can absolutely, positively be right!

But for fuck sake!! Be careful when you're doing it!!