5 min read

Listen Up, Nerds Special Edition: Hank

Listen Up, Nerds Special Edition: Hank

So the world’s no good right now. Not a lot of fun stuff to talk about. A couple of good albums dropped last week but we’ll get to that on Friday. Today, I want to talk about something good. In the spirit of the holiday, I want to talk about who I’m thankful for, and there’s nobody I’m more thankful for than Hank.


Hank’s story of rescue is still one of the funniest things I’ve heard regarding cat rescues. A woman out in Bay Ridge or one of the neighborhoods out there was rescuing a litter of kittens and their mother. Hank allegedly strolled out of nowhere to see if he could also go live inside, and they rescued him, too. This is not terribly characteristic of him as he’s very wary of strangers who don’t come to him with an offering of food, but I think he was tired of living on the streets and I don’t blame him. 

Hank on his first day home with his foster.

When we lived in Brooklyn, Hank didn’t do much. He sat on the couch or sat on my bed, He barely got more than 10 feet away from me. He was a very low-energy cat. He didn’t eat a ton of food and he hid from my roommates. He took some time to get out of his shell like anyone would. I got COVID about two weeks after I got Hank and we spent two weeks staring at each other in that apartment, watching TV, and getting to know each other. Just me, Hank, and NBA League Pass.

The woman who rescued him emailed me about a month after I rescued him because she saw that someone on Craigslist in Bed Stuy was giving away a black cat to a good home and she was afraid it was Hank. I had to send a proof of life photo like it was a kidnapping. I went to Craigslist to find the listing and the cat looked nothing like Hank, but the woman who rescued me was more than happy to see Hank, who didn’t look “happy” but looked like he was alive:

I got Hank three months before I got sober. The guilt I had when I came home drunk and passed out without petting the cat a few times or playing with him was too much. It’s not like I was neglecting him but it felt selfish to leave the cat for several hours and come home to treat him like furniture. He didn’t just exist alongside me, he existed because of me. I was giving him food and shelter. I was responsible for this little guy and I needed to treat him like he was more than an accessory for my life.

When you kick any habit and start to examine what your life looks like without it, you may end up feeling lost. I didn’t know how I’d feel without the element of going to bars and staying out late. I thought that would be most of my life, to be honest. I didn’t think of it as a bad thing, but I recognized that this life of floating around and having strange experiences after hours would make it hard to find stability in any form. For so long, I thought that was what I wanted. I thought I’d like to tour with a band. I didn’t. I thought I’d want to travel for work regularly. Too many hotel breakfasts to count, I can tell you that I didn’t. I thought I wanted a more difficult and unstable life. And then I got Hank, who saw the option of stability presented to him and hopped in the first cardboard box he could and got out of the cold.

Goblin Mode

So much of the reading I did when getting sober was about finding my purpose outside of my vices. Every resource presented these grandiose stories about the transcendental nature of sobriety: The In-N-Out CEO got sober and did this and that (She inherited the company [No shade to In-N-Out, big shouts to the double-double, add grilled onion and chiles]), somebody else got sober and did something else you recognize as a global brand, another guy gets sober and becomes a politician or actor and relapses and DIES. What if you get sober and just become some guy?

The “Finding Your Purpose” concept is treated as an identity that you make out of your addictive traits and suggests you use those traits to get addicted to success or winning or whatever. It doesn’t treat whatever you’re running from. It doesn’t recognize that it’s very much okay to live an extremely normal life where you work your 9-5 and have a cat. I thought I had to have some big message to spread or some way to challenge the concepts of everyone’s reality after I got sober. It turns out that maybe I don’t. I still want to write, I still want to make zines, and I still have dreams of doing bigger things, but if nothing pans out in this big way where I’m making million-dollar deals every hour, then that’s okay too. I’m more than content to sit around and watch basketball with my cat, then load up his photorealistic trout toy with a big pinch of catnip and watch him go wild for an hour or two.

So with that, I want to thank Hank for teaching me what purpose and intention look like. I’m so thankful that we crossed paths and found each other. I couldn’t imagine where my life would be without him. I’ve never seen him so happy in my life now that we’ve moved across the country and are in a bigger apartment with more space and less noise. He gets the zoomies. He plays with toys and stares out of the window all day. He’s a real cat now. He makes me feel like a real person. He’s my purpose and while he’s not going to change the world, he changed me. I’m so thankful for him every single day.