Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 142 - "Just make me a promise that the world's not gonna end..."

I found out today that my cat has cancer in his jaw bone. It was pointed out to me via X-ray this afternoon, on Milhouse's third trip to his third vet in three weeks. There was a part of me that saw this coming, given his eating behavior over the past month, and there was the part of me that wasn't quite prepared for the news. The part of me that started crying as the vet tried her best to follow up and gloss over the bad news with the good news that "his blood work looks great, and while these number seem a little high, he's definitely not diabetic."

I've lived a charmed life, in many ways. And I'm never really thankful enough for it. There's never been a major death, or even a major accident in my family. Not even amongst my close friends. Older relatives have passed away, sure, but no one I've ever had more than three conversations with in my life. Both the last time I cried and the last time I "experienced death" was the parting of a fictional character on Lost. So, being that I'm not primed for death in any way at the tender age of 29, I don't really know what to do with myself.

I just force-fed my poor sick cat a pretty disgusting gruel of prescription cat food, mixed with warm water and microwaved for 15 seconds. He fought me every step of the way, and at one point he managed to spit half of it out, getting it all over himself, me and my couch. Yesterday I would have been livid. But right now, all I could think was: "he still has enough energy to fight me!"

Milhouse wound up in my family's life 7 years ago, a month before Sept. 11th. He appeared in our driveway one day and just starting meowing incessantly. At first, my brother and I just thought he was a female cat in heat, given the similarities in the meow he was giving off, and the one I'd heard in that episode of South Park. But soon I realized he was meowing for our attention. And soon enough he got it.

Now before Milhouse, my experience with cats consisted of attempting to slam my aunt Rachael's cat's tail with the door like I had seen on the many Tom & Jerry cartoons that I grew up on. Man, did that cat hate me. It would run and hide the second it heard me come into her apartment. So - I guess karma decided to drop a needy cat in my lap for me to take care of as a way of making it up to them.

So first he was the family cat (and the first non-hamster-related pet of any kind in the house) - called "Lucky" at first by mom since he was "lucky we're such nice people." But I decided that was too ordinary and boring. My first choice of a name for him was "Parn" - after a character from an anime series I was into at the time. But, inevitably the name sounded too much like "porn" and after a few quizzical looks from friends and family, it was dropped. My next choice was the one that stuck, and contrary to what everyone over the age of 40 thinks, it's actually from Bart's best friend, not the ex-president (though technically, that's where The Simpson's Milhouse is from anyway).

Anyone who's met Milhouse can tell right away he's not a typical cat. He never bites, he never scratches (he actually does knead into you though if you're petting him and he's "making biscuits"), and he actually enjoys being picked up, held and being vacuumed, if you can believe it. He's needy, but then so am I, so it's a trait I appreciate. He drools like crazy. He goes ga-ga for catnip, moreso than anything I've seen on YouTube to date. And finally, while I don't know his exact age, it looks like he's not going to live to be 10 years old. 9 1/2 is old for some cats, but in my mind, not nearly old enough for a cat that's been as pampered as him.

I honestly don't know what I'm going to do without him. I gave up video games this year, and I sold my car, but really, neither of things really mean anything at the end of the day. It's easy to give them up because I know they're always waiting for me whenever I'm ready to jump back in. But there's never going to be another cat like Milhouse. I'd give up games forever if it meant him getting a clean bill of health right now.

There's a certain level of irony (or, 'strange coincidence,' if you want to be technical) in my cat having cancer. I recently starting running with Team In Training to guarantee a spot in the NYC Half Marathon in July, and I've been fundraising for about 3 weeks ago, without any real connection to the cause, not knowing anyone with Leukemia or Lymphoma. Of course, what my cat has is not the same thing as what I'm raising money for, nor do I think I'd be able to have my cat be my 'honored teammate' in the race, but the bottom line is, someone (something?) close to me has been afflicted with a terrible disease, one that I hope will one day be curable, and one that will not put anyone in the position I am in right now: having to decide the day my cat's quality of life no longer justifies him staying alive.

Heh. Hair, video games and you. Yeah, I think I'm gonna miss you the most, buddy.

I know the chances of you reading this are ever so slim, but I love you, Milhouse. With all of my heart.

-Matt

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 135 - "...I'm the kind of guy that can't let anything go, but you wouldn't know a good thing if it came up and slit your throat..."

While I place a strong emphasis on a balance of interests and hobbies in my life - another one of the many reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing - there's a tendency for me to be 'all or nothing' when it comes to a lot of things. If I'm going to drink soda (something I know enough not to do very often) I'll drink regular soda - fuck the diet shit. If I start a book, and I get through at least one chapter, I'm pot-committed, I'm gonna finish it. And speaking of pot-committed, it doesn't take a whole lot for me to put everything I've got into a decent looking poker hand, odds and/or opponents be damned!

One of the most important all-or-nothing decisions I've made in my life was made about 4 years ago, when I started shaving my head every 5 days*. I started down the long, painful road known as male pattern baldness fairly early in life - during my senior year in college, when I noticed my barber didn't spend too much around the top of my head. After a trial run with Rogaine, I decided I could spent $30 a month and 5 minutes of my morning and evenings for the rest of my life to maybe hold onto whatever hair I had left, or I could just shave it all off and be done with it now, as opposed to 10 years down the road. I chose the latter.

I don't really have any regrets - given my current two options - shaved head, or balding head, my personal opinion is that shaved is better. Again, all or nothing - who wants to see someone else's follically-challenged scalp dying a slow painful death right before their eyes? And the bottom line is I never did much with my hair when I had it anyway. I was always super lazy about styling it in anyway. And ok, fine - there's the cancer patient thing. But you know what? I'm a healthy looking, positive and energetic cancer patient. I'm out and about. I'm singing along to the 'Get Up Kids' while I wait for the C train. That's fucking inspiring.

Now, if they were to cure* baldness tomorrow, and I could my get my hands on a permanent solution to my scalp troubles? Sure, I'd be down for it. But I'm sure that won't happen anytime soon, the pharmaceutical business being what it is. So the way I see it, I've gotta get used to my shiny top, and hope that I inspire others that may be in my position. That, or become a super villain of some kind.

If I did grow my hair back though, you know what the very very very last thing I'd ever do to my hair would be?

This. The fucking faux hawk*. I HATE IT. With a passion. (Side note: whatever's going on with that guy's earlobe - I hate that too) Such a half-assed hair style. Why not fully commit and just get a mohawk? Because the real deal's too hard to pull off? Because it's distracting? Because of the type of people associated with full-on mohawks? Well guess what, there's a certain type of person associated with the faux-hawk as well. That's right - they're called douchebags.

I'm too lazy to find out or care which celebrity managed to pull off this hair style and somehow make it look good. But everyone that I personally see attempting it looks like a barber played an awful prank on them, and they just haven't noticed. Seriously, just slick it all the way back and be done with it.

Everyone out there with hair - seriously, you have a gift. Don't waste it on crappy hair styles. And hey while I'm at it - tall guys? How about dating someone approximately your height? Leave some of the shorties for me!

-Matt

Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: Something old school. This game basically was the fall semester of my freshman year of college:


*this number will get smaller as I grow balder, and more ashamed.
*a legitimate cure - I am not taking hair from my ass or anywhere else on my body!
*it's been brought to my attention that what I may be talking about is actually a "mini mohawk," and that the above pictured man is actually sporting a real, albeit awful looking real mohawk. But whatever. You get the idea. Anything similar to the above picture - since there appears to be a gray area - is where my anger is geared towards.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Day 121 - "Every Sunday morning there's an early warning to the way we are..."

There's a tendency for people as they get older - and they start building a family, and they spend more time on their careers, blah blah blah - to forget what it is (or simply not have the time) to just sit back, relax, and have some fun.

I am not one of those people.

When I was younger, I couldn't figure out why adults didn't want to just play and have fun all day. I figured that they must, at some point in their lives, be forced to enter some kind of "maturity machine" (this is absolutely retarded, but very, very true) that transformed them into boring people that only cared about money, working, cleaning, and stupid arbitrary bedtimes. I guessed that sometime during their teenage years everyone is sent to some dull gray building with no windows, and Frank Sinatra playing in the background. And once they walk in they step on a conveyor belt, enter the machine, and say goodbye to their toys, their love of freeze tag, and Lik-M-Aid forever.

I was determined to never enter this machine. And I knew it was possible, because of my uncle Dennis. He was super fun, and as far as I could tell, still an 'adult'. He helped me get rid of my vegetables when I didn't want to eat them (and my mom wasn't looking), he was always making jokes, and he was always up for being silly, watching t.v. and playing games.*

Having recently seen the movie 'Chances Are', I decided that if people like Robert Downey Jr. can get reincarnated with memories of their past lives still intact, I can avoid becoming a fuddy-duddy boring adult. And in a way, I succeeded. Maybe a little too well.

Here I am, some, 20 years later - and while I did manage to get a job, an apartment, and I've adopted some of the adult habits and rituals I thought I'd somehow be able to avoid forever* - I still have a fair amount of that boy inside of me. To this day I prioritize 'fun,' or to my 29 year old self, 'chillin,' to a ridiculous degree. I treat going to work, cleaning my apartment, and exercising with the same kind of disdain I had when I was kid, when I was going to school, cleaning my room, and playing in gym class. I rush through everything as quickly as possible until I can get back to what I considered fun.*

It's almost like I went through the machine, but while it was operating on me it broke down about halfway through. Now I'm a 29 year old man-child that belongs in a Judd Apatow movie*. Here's a look at the thoughts that run through my mind, on any given day - say, on the subway ride to work:
The above chart works on two levels - one is contained in the information provided within (which is surprisingly accurate). The other is a bit of a side note, but it also proves my point just as well. Up until this moment I had never created a pie chart in my life. Now keep in mind, I ran my own company for some time. And today is the day I decided to make my first one - and although it took me about 45 minutes to generate the chart, figure out how to extract the image and tweak it so it looked just right, when the cause is right (as in, pure buffoonery) for me, I will do whatever it takes.*

That's the twisted thing - I've become this sort of 'Fun-aholic' (or Chillin'-aholic, if you will). I plan out my days off far more meticulously than I do my work days. I've got more forms of entertainment than I know what to do with - my DVR is perpetually full, and my Netflix movies go unwatched for weeks/months at a time (and this is when I'm not playing video games!) And I'm always up for a game (these days board or card) of anything.

It seems like the only things I'm passionate about are the things most people give up at some point in their lives for something more productive, or fulfilling.

And if I just - and this is where I can distinctly hear my mother's voice echoing my own - spent half the time I normally spend doing all kinds of nothing, by now I probably would have learned how to fix a car, how to play an instrument, or invented the world's first Chocolate Robot. And I'd be rich, I tells ya!

But do I regret what I've become? Or any of the time I spent just enjoying myself? Can't say that I do. I kept a promise I made to myself when I was young - one that I made based on a clear lack of understanding of the ways of the world - but nevertheless, I'm proud of that.

As of midnight tonight, I will be 1/3 of the my through my journey into...the maturity machine? Or something. Whatever. This year sucks.

-Matt

Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: A good 'ol fashioned game of Kirby's Dreamcourse:


*Right about here is where you might expect me to say: it's unfortunate that he would eventually molest me when I was 9, or perhaps that he was actually just an alcoholic. But surprisingly enough, he didn't, and he wasn't! Thank you Uncle Dennis, for not being that guy!
*I distinctly remember counting down the days when I could just have Doritos for dinner every day.
*Then: Legos. Now: Porn!
*Seriously Judd - call me. I loved Undeclared! Just replace "stoner" with "gamer!"
*Essentially, I am more motivated to use a pie chart for a visual gag than I am to study the purchasing and rental patterns of my customers. Fantastic.