Lefty: My One-Eyed Cat, Part I

If you're not following StellaBella on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, than you just don't know what you are missing!   StellaBellahome.com is where you can find our original content.  But, for all other StellaBella related news, links, opinions, reviews and events - those are the pages where we post and share "non-original content".  I shared some BIG news there during last few months; one of my other interests took me on an exciting journey, and I just have to share with everyone!

After a photo of my tattoo was featured in the NY Times this summer, I was sent a link to apply for a spot on the 2nd Season of NY Ink, on TLC.  Once you have more than a few tattoos, you start compiling a mental list of pieces you would like to get next, so it wasn't hard for me to chose one of those ideas that had a personal meaning behind it.  I filled out the form and sent it in. I forgot about it until I was contacted by TLC, auditioned, did an on-camera interview, and the next thing I knew I was being given the option of any artist at the Wooster Street Social Club to give me my tribute piece!  It was a whirlwind of unexpected events for sure!  I chose wisely, and we filmed the long process one unforgettable day in October, while Reality TV occurred around me.  My story, and the beautiful tribute piece made it onto an episode which will air very soon, so stay tuned.
Here is my story that got me onto the show.

Once upon a time on a beautiful Brooklyn day; Jeremiah, Jeremy and I entered an antique shop on Flatbush Avenue.  The year was 2003, and we had no idea that walking into this store would bring a very special animal into all of our lives.  Jeremy saw these ceramic "hear no evil, see no evil" set of monkey lamps from the window, and insisted we go in to see how much they were priced at.  The owner tried hard to get us to take the grey one-eyed cat that showed up at his backdoor, 3 days prior.  "The lamp is $200, but that damn cat is  free!"  Jeremy went back the next day, and took her home.  Lefty was her name.

When Jeremiah and I moved into the infamous duplex, Jeremy gave Lefty to us - he was traveling often, we had more room, and there was always someone around, so it made sense.  Plus, a spiral staircase is like a built-in cat toy!  I liked having her around, but wasn't attached.  I didn't have many pets growing up, and you wouldn't really call me the biggest animal lover.  And she only pranced from room to room, perching herself in a window when she got the chance.  But when Jeremiah moved out, I was left as her only keeper - other friends and roommates came & left over the years, but Lefty became my responsibility. 

Crocheted Blanket by Baby Stella

One day, I came home from work to small puddles of water scattered over the hardwood floors, and no Lefty in sight.  It took me awhile to notice the small pieces of purple in some of the wetness, as I cleaned them up.  She had gotten into my new roommate's bag of wrapping paper, and purple grosgrain ribbon was all over the place.  I finally found her tucked away in an unlikely place & when she realized she had been spotted, cried with what seemed like all she had left.   She was in serious pain, and early the next morning I took her to the local Park Slope Vet Hospital, conveniently less than 2 blocks away.  After multiple tests, and finally surgery - 8 feet of tangled, purple ribbon was removed from Lefty's intestines!  I nursed her back to health over the next few weeks, and that was the beginning of our beautiful friendship.

We've had a strong bond ever since the surgery.  Lefty was there for me (as much as a pet can be) during the darkest, loneliest time in my life.  Being a single girl in her 20's living in NYC will make your skin tough.  My walls went up higher and higher after emotional scars and bruises hurt too much, or a lover's heartbreak burned too hot.  Friends didn't feel like real friends anymore, and meeting new people was a gamble, with odds stacked against me.  The city that I loved so much, made me feel very alone in the world at that time, as if everyone had turned their back.  No one to lend a helping hand, or had time to talk, and I felt like I was sinking into depression.  A "Quarter-Life Crisis" is what some call it, and lets just say it took alot of honest, introspective work to pull myself out of it.  At the end of each of these sad, lonely days - I would hear Lefty's "Meow" as I walked in the front door, and I knew someone still needed me.

Lefty in Jonathan Adler

Through these trying times, Lefty was my "Good Luck Charm".  She had obviously seen a few of her 9 live's flash before her, and she isn't a mean or nasty cat for the life she was dealt, missing the eye and all.   She's such a happy and friendly pet, and I wish I could understand her because she sure has alot to say!  Maybe, she wants to tell me how she lost the eye?  I wish I knew, all I hear is - Meow, mEow, meoOOOow! 

Once I turned 30, things started to fall into perspective for me.  My priorities became more focused and I stopped worrying about the things that were out of my control.  I started to love myself again, and that is more important than anything.  To quote the glorious RuPaul,"If You Can't Love Yourself, How In The Hell Are You Gonna Love Someone Else?"  Amen.

On my recent trip to Spain, I picked up this t-shirt (below) for a friend, at a tattoo shop in Madrid.  This is when the idea came to me for a Lefty Tribute piece.  I love Japanese artwork, and they can transform into some beautiful tattoos, but I tend to collect more traditional American work.  The image on the t-shirt seemed to melt the "Good Luck Charm" aspect of the Maneki Neko prosperity cat, with a more modern, less Japanese look.  With Lefty's markings and one-eye - I thought this could definitely be one bad-ass tribute piece!

Lefty is still a very healthy and happy cat as we moved this summer to the Loft, and despite being a dog lover - Big Ronnie adores her!  I was glad I didn't wait until it was a memorial tattoo - she still has many more years in our family!  Stay tuned to TLC Thursday night @ 9pm to see my episode, the entire tattoo process, reality tv drama, and the amazing artwork that is finally unveiled!  Shout out to my make-up artist, Ashleigh Ciucci and stylist, Jeremiah Canonico.  I will post a Part II after the episode airs, pictures with the artist, and behind-the-scenes shots!

La vita è bella,

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