The Flux Capacitor

Hop on board - you don't even need 1.21 gigawats or a room at Biff's Pleasure Paradise to join in on the fun!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bob Barker retiring after 50 years on TV.

So he is finally retiring. Say it ain't so, Bob!

There was nothing better while sick on a weekday than to watch "The Price Is Right" with Bob and some idiot playing Plinko. You will be missed.

Rush hour sucks.

So first off, I didn't win the costume contest yesterday. I was definitely screwed - the winner was someone who dressed as Madonna with a baby. Damn celebrity current events.

Also, we are having our driveway repaved and widened - I know, exciting. They started yesterday and are going to finish up today. However, when I got home last night, they paved it not the way that we had previously agreed upon. So when they came out this morning, we had the discussions and came to a compromise. They will finish the job today, and it should be ok the way they end up doing it.

Anyways, I left about five minutes later than I usually do, but still with enough time to get to the commuter rail station and catch my regular train. Except when I got there, the parking lot was completely full. Nowhere to park! So my only option then was to drive to work.

Now to get to my work, you have to take both major highways in the area. So I take Route 95 to 93, and once you get on 93, it turns into a parking lot. And this happens on a regular basis.

So I was stuck in the "parking lot" today. Took me almost two hours to get to work. Sucked big time.

Hopefully it won't be as bad going home...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Did you turn back the clock? Father Time will remind you...

Saturday night was Red's spooky Halloween party, and a good time was had by all. There was a haunted house where we had to find the "treat" and I was scared by a demon in the shower and Kate and Steve with their spooky sounds. Lots of good conversation and weird beer, and delicious cookies.

My costume was Father Time. This was the result of an inside joke at work... well, not much of a joke, really. I can explain...

Today there is a Halloween party at work. Now since I deal mostly with invoices here, I also deal with people's billable hours, meaning I deal with their timesheets (a lot of dealing going on, I suppose). Employees have to go through this whole process to correct something on their timesheet from previous weeks... they have to send an e-mail to this NY e-mail account that was set up under the name "Father Time" and explain why the timesheet needs to be reopened. Sometimes Father Time will ask for more details, sometimes this person will take awhile to respond. Since this whole "Father Time" thing just became an issue a few months ago, and someone here planted the idea in my head, I managed to put together a costume that consists of a black robe, a top hat, a white beard, a cane (a pimp cane, to be exact), and a clock that Melissa rigged up so that I can wear it around my neck. It got a good response at Red's party, so hopefully it will get a good response at the party today. And the best costume gets a $50 check card!

It also so happened that we had to turn the clocks back for Daylight Savings Time this weekend, so Father Time made sure to remind everyone about that. Today I will just remind everyone to make sure their timesheets are in, otherwise Father Time will haunt them and beat them with my pimp stick.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Most mornings before I get on the commuter rail train, I grab a cup of coffee at this place across the street. They actually have really good coffee there, and in my opinion it is even better than the famous Dunkin' Donuts as far as pure consistency goes. Sometimes a cup of DD coffee will be amazing, and sometimes it will disappoint. On the train this morning, while sipping my delicious coffee and trying to read the Metro, I was thinking about the other places I've gotten coffee from before. I will try to think back to some good, and bad, cups I've had in the past.

I probably had my first cup at this diner/restaurant in Brooklyn, near the first crappy apartment that I lived in with my family. I used to always get french toast (with a side of toast)and a chocolate egg cream, but one day I finally made the switch to coffee. It was good there.

There's this other diner on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn that I would go with my dad to for breakfast (and we still go there whenever I visit). Their coffee there is amazing - there really is nothing better than good diner coffee, and that was some of the best.

And continuing on the diner kick, Ralph and I got some good cups of coffee at the Washington Square Restaurant in Manhattan. Maybe it was better because Ralph kept going nuts about getting free refills, although most diners do that anyway.

The Comfort Diner coffee - yum. But so is everything at that place.

When I used to go to school and work in the city, there would be these little street vendors where you can get a cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese for $1.25. The coffee there was always really sweet, but I enjoyed it. Except for when there would be a big lump of sugar at the bottom of the cup.

In Massachusetts, the coffee at Friendly's is ok, but it gets cold when they leave the pitcher on the table. Besides that, there aren't a lot of really good diners to talk about. There were a couple in Watertown with decent coffee (and decent food), but we didn't get to go to those all that often (mostly when my dad would come to visit). There is one little diner around where we live now, but I've only gone there, again, when my dad came to visit. Decent coffee there.

I always prefer Dunkin' Donuts coffee to Starbucks. I do like the Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks, but extra caramel is not a good idea.

There's this little place on my way to work in Cambridge, and after a few times, I finally stopped getting their coffee - it was really bitter. Probably one of the worst, if not the worst, cups of coffee I've ever had.

Coffee you can get at work - always tastes too bitter to me. I always prefer making hot chocolate. But they do have this Milky Way coffee/coco here at work that I love.

And of course, I can never make a good enough cup of coffee at home. We would get a really good coffee maker, but it would either come out too light or too bitter.

Ok, now I will go make myself one of those Milky Way coffees. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


After telling that story about Ralph, I thought it would be a good idea to think about some of my older stories and retelling them. I had some of this stuff on diary-x, but I don’t think that is up and running anymore.

Today’s story will be about Evan.

I met Evan at summer camp in 1993. We were both counselors in the same group. He seemed like he would be ok – we were both Yankee fans and he seemed to be interested in getting into the bands I was listening to at the time.

As the summer went on, I began noticing weird things about him. Whenever Ralph and I would head out to get something to eat after camp was over for the day, Evan would basically join us without an invite. Ralph was extremely amazed that he chose to hang out with us instead of get a ride home with these two good looking twin girls.

Evan always made his presence felt at the worst times. I could think of three times when Evan showed up while I was hanging out with this one girl I kinda liked. One of those times, he even made a point to mention how much hair I had on my body. Another time, he made sure to sit right in between us.

So the summer of 1993 ended, but somehow Evan would still get in contact with Ralph and me. We actually went over his house that September to watch a football game, and we noticed more weird things: he had every newspaper for the entire baseball season opened up to the Yankee box score. He had tons of free cheap sneakers that he got from his dad’s company. He had a mini bowling alley in his basement with a jukebox that played Motley Crue and the Alarm. And he had this second floor that no one lived in, that looked totally abandoned, and when we went up there, he told us to make sure we keep quiet, or else “we’ll be sorry.” He never explained why. But when Ralph and I joked that we should move in there, he got all excited and was hoping we weren’t joking around.

Then there was time when Evan called all the time. And I mean ALL THE TIME. I would get home from school at 3 PM, and he would call me at 3:05, like he knew when I walked through the door. He would call me with nothing to say. The conversation would go something like this:


“Hey, what’s up.”

“Nothing. You?”


Then silence for awhile.

“I gotta go eat. Later.”

But then he would call me back ten minutes later. And I’m not joking, it was really ten minutes later. And I’d have to think of another way to get rid of him.

One time he actually did have something to say. He wanted to tell me that he hated his mom because she wouldn’t heat up his pizza, but then he loved her because she got him a box of Ring Dings. Oh joy.

Another time he asked me what the normal time was for a guy to be “in a girl.” Yup, you know what he is talking about. I ask him why, and he goes, well I was in this girl for ten minutes. Now I think he was lying, because he used to talk about this girl “Georgia” that I never met and who I never thought was real.

And then one day the weirdest thing happened. I was on the phone talking to Ralph, and then Evan calls on the other line. I pick up, tell him I am busy, click him off and continue talking to Ralph. And I then tell Ralph about this top ten list (like Letterman) that I made about why everyone hates Evan. Ralph is laughing like crazy, and we’re enjoying this. After we’re done talking, Evan calls me and tells me he heard the whole thing. Now I know I clicked him off, so how was he listening? I asked him, and he goes “I have my ways.” Freaky!! As punishment, Evan forced Ralph and I to hang out with him (can you believe forcing people to hang out with you?) I got out of it because of my class schedule, but Ralph wasn’t so lucky. The night of the infamous “hanging out on Kings Highway” day, Ralph calls me and tells me that it was the most awkward and worst day of his life.

I never saw Evan in person after this, but it wasn’t because he didn’t try. He would still call me asking to hang out. I would flat out tell him no, and he would say “ok, I am flexible! We can do it another time then.” And we would go through this over and over again.

The following summer, Evan was considering returning to camp as a counselor, but Ralph and I did not want him ruining our summer. So we told him that we had other plans for the summer and weren’t returning. So he goes to me “well, if you and Ralph aren’t gonna be back, then there’s no reason for me to return!” No joke. And he didn’t come back. When he found out later that we really did return, I just told him we had a change of plans.

But he was there the summer after that. And it was extremely weird. We barely spoke all summer, and whenever we’d pass each other, we would try to look the other way. I think he realized what Ralph and I thought of him, finally. But we were usually around in the same places during that summer, so it was always weird. But we managed.

And then he finally stopped calling me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My mom and dad suck for taking a picture of me with Kramer hair.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Today is the five year anniversary of my best friend Ralph's passing. I can't believe it's been five years already - so much has happened during this time. But I still can't forget my friend and all of the good times we had.

I met Ralph in summer camp many years ago... he was friends with our friend Jeff, and the two of them were Mets fans. But we all got along really well and hung out all the time. Since Jeff lived in Staten Island, we didn't get to see much of him after camp, so it was mostly just Ralph and me. We made camp extremely fun - always talking about girls, going to get pizza after camp some days, making up our fake rock band. And when camp ended for the summer, we would already start the countdown to next year's camp orientation. We both loved it so much because it was a big change from the rest of the year, going to Jewish private school. The ugliest girls were in my grade, and Ralph didn't even have any girls in his school. So we cherished every moment we could.

Ralph was a unique individual for sure - he was the only Mexican Jew I have ever met. He had a weird sense of humor, and his idol was Howard Stern (he was determined to become the next Stern). He had this theory that it was a waste to spend a lot of money on food because after you consume it, it would be gone for good; however, if you bought something like a CD or a rock t-shirt, that would stay with you forever. And if you bought a sports jersey, it would always be best to buy one that had a really long name and/or a big number (double digits, especially) - for example, Ralph loved Jason Isringhausen (no. 44) when he came up with the Mets. His prized possession was his Wayne Gretzky Rangers jersey that he bought from Cosby's at Madison Square Garden - it was an official jersey and Gretzky had the largest number they could put on a jersey - number 99.

We spent money on food wisely - either hot dogs from Gray's Papaya (they were 50 cents each back then), or pizza at Ray's (huge slices, worth the money). For breakfast, we'd head to Washington Square restaurant on West 4th for some silver dollar pancakes and unlimited coffee (anything unlimited to Ralph was a very good thing).

Even though he was frugal with his money when purchasing food, there were some exceptions: when we felt like being "fancily" we would go to BBQs on 8th Street for some ribs (and of course, BBQs is not even close to being fancy or "fancily," but it was for us during that time). It was also at BBQs where Ralph would feel bad for the servers if he wanted to ask for more napkins - his hands would be completely dripping with rib sauce. When he finally got some napkins, he would not lick his hands first - he would try to wipe it all off with tons of napkins, ripping every one.

The two of us went through a lot together - we both had the same taste in music, so we went to tons of concerts together. We met Jeff Ament when his side band Three Fish played the Wetlands. We went through the whole "Evan" situation (which would be another long entry itself). We both almost passed out at the Soundgarden concert at the NYS Armory (where it felt like it was 100 degrees with no air conditioning). We snuck bottles of Rolling Rocks into CBGB, because it was cheaper across the street. We both hung out with the band Dandelion at the CBGB restaurant (when it was still around) and wrote our names in the bathroom there. We hung out at Z Bar on Avenue A many times because they played rock music on the jukebox and they made the best Kamikazes ever.

Ralph had this crazy sense of humor despite being dealt a crappy hand. His dad passed away before I met him, and his mom passed away from cancer. He hated his brother, who hated him back just as much. Ralph was so miserable when he had to move in with his brother and his wife after his mom passed away that he moved out even before finding a place of his own (he spent three weeks in my room before finding his own apartment). He had his own place in Brooklyn for awhile, but soon after moved to the Syracuse area to live with his girlfriend Marissa.

Ralph and I did have a falling out of sorts, and this was right before he moved to Syracuse. But we got back in touch in 2001, and he came to visit Melissa and I in Boston in August 2001. It was like old times - we took a walk to Harvard Square where Ralph loved checking out all of the lesbians by the T stop. The last time I saw him was when we drove him back to his train, but with all the traffic, he missed it and had to wait a few hours until the next one. Melissa and I felt so bad, but there was nothing we could do.

I spoke to him on the phone a few days after September 11th, and he was really depressed about it, as we all were.

And then I remember one day after work, I got home, and there was a message on my machine from Marissa. I called her back, and she told me the bad news. Ralph was having trouble breathing one day, and got a ride to the hospital, where they told him to take some aspirin and he'd be ok. After leaving the hospital, Ralph started having convulsions and stopped breathing. It was later determined that he had a brain aneurysm that went undetected.

Ralph's brother took care of the funeral arrangements, but I didn't even know the details about it, and Marissa wasn't invited because they didn't like her (mostly because she was half-black and they were all "religious"). But there was a memorial held for him by Marissa and her parents in Syracuse, and Melissa and I went there (and even my friend Jack made an appearance there for a little bit). It was nice to see a big crowd - Ralph made a ton of friends up there. We all exchanged funny Ralph stories (I told a story about the weird way he used to eat his Chinese food - first the egg roll, then all of the fried rice, and then the meal). They even gave me his Gretzky jersey, which I still have.

And now here we are, five years later. Ralph's memory lives on - in Watertown, whenever our China cabinet would turn on by itself, we'd say it was Ralph. Whenever wrestling is on and Ric Flair is there, I think of him. When CBGB closed down last weekend, I thought of the times Ralph and I had there. I think about how Ralph once mentioned that he was thinking of moving to the Boston area eventually. And how he would have made a great best man at my wedding. But instead, all we have are the memories from our past. And they were good ones.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Another Olivia photo entry.

Olivia takes the best pictures. And I love sharing them.

Olivia's boxing outfit. She is ready to KO somebody.

Don't you wish they made these for adults? How comfortable does she look?

I can't believe the Tigers swept the A's! I hope the Mets and the Cards actually make it interesting!

You! Yeah, I see you!

Hanging out with her bear friend.

The little bumpkin with her bunny friend.

Waving to her adoring fans.

She looks like she is ready to hibernate.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

CBGB - an end of an era.

Last night, CBGB hosted its final show. The rock/punk mecca in the East Village in NYC would not be allowed to renew its lease, and after many battles, owner Hilly Kristal finally gave up.

With CB's closing, it got me thinking to all the memories that I have of that place. I've spent many nights at that place, either with Ralph or by myself, watching bands for cheap. I'd take the F train from Brooklyn, get off at either Broadway-LaFayette or West 4th Street, hang around the Village for awhile, and walk my way east towards CB's. Maybe I would cut through Astor Place, work my way to St. Marks Place, and walk down what is pretty much 3rd Ave. towards CB's.

I spent Ralph's 21st birthday there. We ordered Long Island Iced Teas and Kamikazes, made a pit stop at the Continental for another drink before heading to the subway - both of us stumbled towards the N train, transferred to the F to that crappy apartment where I lived, and devoured chicken wings until we both passed out on the floor.

Other moments:

* Ralph and I sneaking in Rolling Rocks that we bought from across the street.

* Getting to see Bush play their first US show ever, for 8 bucks.

* Getting to see Bad Religion at CB's and Coney Island High, for 5 bucks each.

* Getting to see Weezer (with That Dog opening) and basically watching them from the front of the stage.

* Making a weird new friend named Hommy (pronounced Homie), and going to see H2O with him (and seeing that band many times in a short span).

* Going with Ralph to see this girl Laurie's band, who I went to elementary school with - she used to be this girl in school who was extremely smart and loved to debate, and now she was a bass player in a death metal band.

* Hanging out at the old CBGB restaurant next door, which loungy chairs and pizza. Ralph and I dreamed up our fake band there, called Maverick, and we even wrote in the bathroom there that "Maverick was here."

Those are just a few moments I've had there. That place was so grimy and grungy, and I loved it. I've been there when it was packed and when there were only a few people there. I've peed in the nasty bathroom downstairs. I've even been in the backstage room where the bands hang out (thanks to The Muffs).

I haven't been there in awhile, not since I still lived in NY. It would probably have stung more if I was younger, still living in NY, still going to shows. But with CBGB closing, it really won't affect my life right now, but it doesn't mean I will forget the good times I had there. It just reminds me about how much I loved hanging out in the East Village - all those used CD shops and the awesome pizza in St. Mark's, Nevada Smith's bar, Webster Hall club, BBQs on 8th, and those silver dollar pancakes and unlimited coffee at Washington Square Restaurant. I could just wander around for hours by myself on a Saturday, buying CDs and getting 50 cent hot dogs at Gray's Papaya. Or meeting Ralph on the train, bullshitting for hours, and buying t-shirts from the places on 8th or in St. Mark's.

I wish I had more time in NY when I went for work - it would have been cool to see the old hangouts again. Although it wouldn't have been the same - I'm in such a different place now that I wouldn't be thinking of going to a show or buying tons of cheap CDs. But I would be missing this girl a ton:

She, and Melissa, are my life now.

But also, thinking about this stuff makes me think about Ralph again, and what a shame it is that he is no longer with us. I can only imagine what could have been if he was still alive. Would he still be in Syracuse, getting back together with his gf that he just broke up with? Or maybe move out to the Boston area, and make a life for himself here? Thinking selfishly, I think if he moved here, I would have that best friend nearby that people need - someone who you can call up out of the blue and ask if they wanna hang out (Melissa had that with her friend Amanda). Someone who would have been my best man at my wedding. Someone who, despite a stretch where we didn't talk because of arguments, would always be there for me (and me for him) because we have been through so much together. Dammit Ralph, I still can't believe you're gone.

And now, CBGB. But at least i have a wonderful family, living in a wonderful house (with a wonderful brand new garage door).

Friday, October 13, 2006

12 weeks old.

Can you believe that it's been 12 weeks already? She has grown from a tiny little baby with no neck control to a bigger baby who smiles, giggles, tries to talk, and has a routine. Not to mention a sweet bear coat with ears on her hoodie to keep her warm!

Sucky news:

I had an appointment with an oral surgeon yesterday. I finally scheduled to take out my wisdom teeth. It won't be done until April 2007 because I have four appointments in February and March at the dentist first, for deep cleanings and fillings. 2007 will be the year of the dentist, I suppose. But I would rather get everything fixed than be like my dad who had so many problems with his teeth (now he has no problems with them, because they are all fake!)

Better news:

The new Killers album kicks ass. Almost every song gets stuck in my head at one point or another. Even the bonus disc I got at Best Buy has two amazing songs on it.

Our new garage door should be finally completed today. Now we will actually get to use the garage for not just storage - although we still need to decide when to fix up the driveway to make it even easier to get the cars in.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

R.I.P. Cory Lidle.

Whether you are a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan, you wouldn't want anything like that to happen to anyone. It's scary enough when a plane crashes into a building, but it's weird when it is someone you know (a friend, someone famous, etc.). It is a real shame.

That's all for today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A day in the life of Olivia.

Good morning! Who is this person in my bed? Oh, it is daddy!

OK, I am ready to get up now!

I just had my bath, and now I smell delicious.

I'll just sit over here. Where's the remote?

Kick off my socks. Ahh, comfy.

Time to go? Where are we going?

Oh, you took me to dress me up as a pilgrim? Is this a joke?

The least you can do is take off the hat. Ahh, thank you.

Ok, all this excitement is making me hungry. Where is my bottle? Is it behind me? Are you really going to make me eat my fist? Actually, it is quite tasty.

So where the hell is that bottle? Are you going to make me climb for it?

Hungry, irritated...

Ok, now I am pissed.

What's that you say? My bottle is almost ready? It's about time!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Yum yum yum.

What a busy day! I am so sleepy... good night and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Monday, October 09, 2006

New York.

So last week my company sent me to the NY office to meet the people there and for some training. Of course, I get sent right in the middle of the Yankees playoff run, which unfortunately did not last very long. Here's how my last couple of days went:

Wednesday: Took the Acela train to NY. That train kicks ass. Roomy, fast, better than taking a shuttle to NY. And you get dropped off at Penn Station, much better than LaGuardia or JFK.

Walked to the office, which was only a block away from Times Square. Good group of people there. There was one other who came, from SF.

Actually did some work there, and some training. At 6, I left to check into my hotel (which had a wide screen plasma TV), and then I met my friend (who works at my old job, and he was in the NY office for work as well). We went to ESPN Zone, all ready to watch the game, but it was delayed until late, and it was eventually rained out. We still got dinner and hung out which was cool, and then back to my room to watch Lost and pass out on the bed.

Also, today was Melissa and my anniversary. I did remember, and I preordered some flowers that she got. And she got to spend the evening with Red, who took my place as husband for the night. Thanks, Red.

Thursday: It was nice rolling out of bed, showering, and getting to work in a short amount of time (the hotel was a half block away from the office). More work, found out that the boss there is really good friends with the guitarist from My Chemical Romance (so good that he is the godfather of one of his kids, and has gotten him backstage when they opened up for Green Day). I went to lunch with the SF guy and watched half of the Yankee game, which was rescheduled for this afternoon. But they ended up losing, tying the series at 1-1.

After work, I met up with my dad and we went to dinner at BBQ, my old favorite. It was good, as usual, and it was good to see my dad, even though he is falling apart (which is nothing new, though).

Friday: Back to the office, more work, but I got to split at 2:30. Walked back to Penn Station, bought a huge pretzel from a vendor to take on the train, got back to South Station at 7:15, and took a cab home.

Saturday: Getting back into the groove. Lots of Olivia time, who was cute as always. But I totally forgot that my friend had a BBQ - I could have gone, since he only lives like 10-15 minutes away, but with me being away in NY and the fact that we couldn't get on the computer for too long (because the plug to our iBook was broken), I totally forgot all about it.

Sunday: Olivia's christening. She was so cute in her little white dress and bonnet - she looked like a little pilgrim. She was the cutest of all the babies there, and the most animated. The rest of the day was just with family at our house, and Olivia was so tired from having such a busy day. Her schedule was all off, and I ended up feeding her at 12:15 AM.

This morning: Before grabbing Olivia to pack her up and take her to her grandparents, she looked up at me in the crib and gave me a huge smile, as if to say, "I haven't seen you in a few hours, and boy did I miss you!" I put her in her bear coat (which I will have to take a picture of her in soon - so cute!) and drove her over before going to work. And now here I am, at work. Could be worse, though. Although could be better, if Olivia was in my arms right now...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An e-mail from Olivia.

Today is the first day that both Melissa and I are at work, and Olivia is with her grandparents. And here is an e-mail I received this morning:

Hi Mommy and Daddy!
Here's a message from me to you:

sjhbfxlvcuwM; YEVLBUTFCvuinvk!!! I typed this myself!

It means I miss you so much but I'm having a good day with Grammie and Grampie!
I had a little nap this morning and Grammie and I have walked around the house and deck a few times. I sat with Grampie for a while too. I've been smiling a lot and they seem to like that. I sat in my chair and batted the blue and orange giraffes a whole bunch. It's almost time for my bottle so I better get Grammie to put it on for me.
So have a good day and hurry home to see me!
I love you both a whole bunch!!!!!!!

Hugs and Kisses,

The poor girl had a bottle at 5 AM and then proceeded to spit up half of it, all over her shirt that Melissa just put on her. So now she is wearing this cute little cardigan that I bought for her from Baby Gap. And of course, it is adorable on her.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy holy day.

I am finally going on my first business trip. I am being sent to our main office in New York, Wednesday through Friday. I will miss Melissa and Olivia, obviously, but it should be fun - staying at a hotel in Times Square, taking the Acela train, and possibly meeting up with family and/or friends.

And Melissa went back to work today, and came home not feeling well. Poor girl. But at least when she got home, we got Olivia to talk a lot. Nothing is cuter!

And with Melissa at work today, I stayed home. I took the day off for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It's a day of atonement for sins and all that crap. You are supposed to fast, but i don't do that anymore. I guess I finally realized how much of a big deal it really isn't.

It makes me think of living in Brooklyn as a kid, going to yeshivah, surrounded by rabbis and people trying to brainwash you. I remember sitting in high school, not talking much in the Hebrew classes. I remember the "holy" rabbi in one class snorting snuff and giving it to some of the students. And the history teacher making rude comments to the girls in the class.

I never really fit in during my high school years. Mostly everyone was part of the "community" - everyone lived within a one mile radius, except me. There were a few of us that we considered the outcasts - when my friend finally had a car, we would drive during lunch to get whatever non-kosher food we could get. And we were always trying to pull pranks.

Most of the people in this "community," including most of the kids in my class - I didn't like them. Too religious, too full of themselves, too fake.

And not to mention that most of the girls in my school were not that attractive.

So I used to fast all the time on Yom Kippur, eat no bread on Passover. Even go to temple on the big holidays. But why? Will i go to hell if I don't fast? Will all of these fake, closed minded people go to heaven for eating a little matzah? I doubt it. It should all be about being a good person, not about fearing what God is going to do to you if you don't follow some rules that some rabbis a long time ago probably thought up. Besides, who made the decision that you can't use electricity on the Sabbath? Moses certainly didn't know what electricity was back in the day!

If you're going to have a holiday, it should be about friends and family getting together and having fun. There was no fun in going to temple for hours, not even being able to drive there. Ralph and I did used to make the most out of going to temple. We would meet up and walk over, and spend most of our time outside, running into people we knew, and checking out the girls.

The worst was having this one guy come to meet with our class for "spiritual guidance." We were basically medidate in a conference room, right before he would ask us to consider going for our first years in college in Israel. This was the beginning of the brainwashing. If you considered this and went, you came back to Brooklyn totally brainwashed. If you were a bully who made fun of everyone, you came back praying all the time and wanting to be a rabbi. They tried to get me to go, but I wasn't having any of that.

The most fun I had during my high school years was during my senior year. Every year, all the students went on a weekend "seminar" - either in New Jersey or upstate New York, a getaway mostly to talk about all sorts of Jewish stuff. I didn't go on any of them except for the last one, because me and my friends planned on enjoying ourselves. It was on Halloween, and we decided to bring masks and all sorts of weird stuff. We got fake soap and actually got someone to use it and turn himself all blue. We ran around the hotel in masks (I had a Jason hockey mask and a rubber ax). And the best - my friends and I met this guy in the room next to us, some guy with a guitar. We hung out in his room, drinking beer and ordering pizza (not kosher, of course). The rest of our grade was in this one room, singing songs and talking. Lame stuff. In our bag of pranks, we brought rope, and we actually tied up their doorknob with the one next door, basically locking them all in. They were locked in there for hours (and they were trying to get out!) When they finally escaped and (naturally) thought it was my friends and me, we blamed it on the guy we met (who let us do that). That same guy also ran into their room with a mask on, screaming, and scaring the shit out of everyone.

It was always fun fucking with people I didn't like.

Then after Melissa and I were together and got engaged, it felt like I had the whole "community" after me, trying to "bring me back." Those brainwashing experts calling me at home. Rabbis calling me at work. And my crazy aunt writing me a 28 page letter, and sending books to my apartment. And, of course, screaming at Melissa on the phone to "get out!" Those were fun times. Do I miss seeing them every day?

I can only imagine what life would be like without Melissa and Olivia, still being near that "community." There is no way I would have been brainwashed, but how much pretending would I have to do? Would i even meet someone that I would be happy with there? Probably not. I think I made out pretty well - better than anything. And I have the wonderful wife and daughter to prove that.