Life with a twist of lime

I didn’t want to freak everyone out before I knew what I was dealing with, but now things are under control, so I wanted to catch people up. I’ve been feeling like complete and utter crap the last couple of weeks, and when rest and healthy food didn’t seem to kick the problem, I hauled ass to the doctor and then waited all week for test results. I completely freaked myself out, imagining all sorts of horrible possibilities (it doesn’t help to wait for your decree on the cusp of Rosh Hashanah, let me tell you!), got lots of hugs from my parents, and then spent the weekend curled up with Sam, who basically spent two days hugging me and telling me, “You’re surrounded by people who love you and everything will be all right.” There aren’t words to describe what that meant to me.

The verdict? Lyme disease. We caught it very early, it’s 3 weeks of antibiotics and I’m good again. And a diagnosis means I can tell people to back off if I need to lower the stress level at work, which I’m very grateful for.

So then my brother, who had come with me to the doctor’s office, went with me to the Farmer’s Market at Union Square and then we caught Lord of War together. Damn good movie, really chewy stuff, and I very much needed that to decompress a little.

My feelings on diagnosis and treatment after having taken the meds, whose side effects are remarkably similar to the symptoms I was already having, “In the beginning, there was nothing. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was still nothing … but you could see it.”

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Independent thought

So I’m editing this book on the evolutionary nature of Jewish law, chock-full of primary source material, and in the chapter on the late 20th century is the first article my dad ever wrote, three years before I was born. And I’m realizing that critical concepts I take for granted about the way the world works, or that I use to inform my choices and practices, are articulated almost word-for-word in this article.

I’m not sure which is more unnerving, realizing that ideas I thought were my own informed opinion instead show how much I’m a product of my upbringing, or realizing that I’ve spent twenty-six years reinventing a wheel that’s been standing in my living room.

New Year’s cards

I’ve never really been able to get into Rosh Hashanah cards. They make sense under two conditions: when you have far-off friends you don’t really see or talk to over the course of the year, and when you have little ones (or grown ones) to report on. Since I’m too young to fall into either category, and since I think my parents still include my doings in their card, I’m left feeling like I should say something but feel ridiculous sending cards out to people I just talked to last week.

But this has been a hell of a year, and I think it needs some reflection and sharing.

This time last year I was visiting my grandfather every day after work. I’d never been very close to him, in the beginning I went more out of a sense of shame and regret that I hadn’t done the same for my Uncle Roger when he was dying. I often didn’t know what to say or how to make myself useful, but we fell into a routine, I became more comfortable teasing him, and I ended up feeling both a sense of peace and a sense of loss when he died. This past year, I’ve watched my dad go through the process of mourning, watching the minute shifts in his personality as he comes to terms with his memories of his father. I’m counting the days until he can listen to a classical music concert again, and seeing him without the charming beard he’s grown, seeing him more like he’s always looked.

Every Yom Kippur, examining my life, I try and find one thing to change for the coming year. It’s said you can only make a full contrition to God if you don’t intend to start up the same behavior right after Yom Kippur, so I try and focus on the thing that feels most shameful and personal when I read the list of communal sins. (With the exception of slash. I’m trying to be good, but not that good.)

So last Yom Kippur I promised myself I’d be more present in my relationships instead of living on autopilot most of the time. I took a long, hard look at things, made some changes that were painful but necessary and ended up falling in love with Sam, who is amazing and wonderful and makes me happier than I have ever been in my life. Every moment with him is a joy and an adventure, and if I’m not present, I’ll miss something wonderfully important. And for our fourth date, we ended up going to Mardi Gras, something so far outside my ordinary, autopilot life I would never have taken a chance on it before. Looking at the devastation there now, I’m so glad we decided not to wait for next year. I’m starting to realize that next year doesn’t always come, that your life is what you do now, not what you intend to do later.

And on that note, as most of you know, I’m looking at grad schools. I’m terrified of change and upheaval, I hate selling myself to universities, but I’ve been at the same job for four years and I’ve learned all they can teach me. It’s time to move on, before I calcify and can’t conceive of going out into the big, scary world anymore.

Who’s on first?

So I treated myself to a movie last night, which, considering New York prices, is a pretty extravagant evening out, but I really wanted to seeĀ Brothers Grimm.

I wish I hadn’t. I really wish I hadn’t. It’s only the second movie I’ve ever walked out of in my life (the first being Lara Croft. Nuff said.). Imagine if someone remade The Frighteners with no heart, no good jokes, lots of male bashing, and worse CGI, and you’ve got an idea of Grimm. (Understand, I like The Frighteners, but it’s the only thing I could think of with a similar plot.

So having paid $11 for a movie I couldn’t bear to watch, I did something I rarely do and snuck into one of the other theaters in the multiplex for a show that was just starting. The Aristocrats, which, as a documentary about comedians, wasn’t high on my list of things to see in theaters. But I laughed so hard I think I coughed up a lung, and I’m definitely going back and bringing friends.

Basically, the documentary is about a joke comedians only tell amongst themselves at parties, not generally in their routines, where the structure of the joke is very simple and not-funny, but the humor comes from the embellishments each comedian adds to it. Understand, the base of this joke is scat, incest and bestiality, so if you have delicate sensibilities, you might want to pass, but what’s amazing is watching eighty comedians from Carol Channing to Drew Carey try to tell this awful joke, each completely different. I think the best was Bob Sagat’s, but the fact that they had a South Park version and several street performers doing this joke should give you an idea of the bloody incredible range of this thing. Gah.

Go see it. Go see it often.