taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Saturday, April 30, 2005

The always-entertaining Keyword Game again. Recent searches include:

passive aggressive men
cutting off all her hair
glans removal
my bff
steps to ending a marriage
let the wenches waddle
fish tank game- drop flakes

What does this SAY about me? Glans removal? Good god. (Although I do admit that now the phrase "let the wenches waddle" will rattle around in my brain forever. Maybe it needs to be a poem.)

It's raining hard so I spent the morning drinking coffee and reading poetry. Adrienne Rich no less--a book I bought in high school. Funny how different these poems seem now. I thought I understood them when I was sixteen. I thought I understood everything.

The phone had been left out in the rain overnight--another piece of technology broken. It's as though this house has simply decided to fall apart. Piece by piece. Soon the dishwasher will break--and the stove and possibly dishes. And then more fundamental pieces of the house--simpler technology--will come undone. Nails popping from joists. Shingles slipping from the siding. There's a scene in some seventies horror movie about a haunted house that comes back to me from time to time. Oh--I remember now. The movie was called "Burnt Offerings" and it was about this house that needed the lifeblood of human families to repair itself. Of course an unwitting happy family moves into it and is killed by the house. Anyway in the last scene--after the family has been dispatched in a variety of horrible ways--the house magically flies back together again. Fresh paint and clean furniture too. The works. A total renovation.

Sometimes that's what I think is going on here.

In other news:

1. We bought a TV cabinet so we're now the kind of people that pretend we don't have a TV. "TV? Where? We don't watch TV. Oh that? That's an ARMOIRE."

2. I took my third job in three months because my old boss gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. So now I work at the same place I worked seven years ago. Only now I am a Director. Pretty cool. I guess maybe I am kind of good at my job.

3. My daughter turned 8 today. 8! I have an eight year old. How strange is that? I'm not old enough to have an eight year old. I still have purple hair for god's sake. I'm STILL COOL. I am! I even bought some obscure rock n roll CDs on amazon the other day and I listen to them really loud in the car.

4. My husband and I are going on a date tonight. This will be our third whole date since the Bee was born over a year ago. We're going to this kind of upscale yet horsey restaurant in the county. The food is good but the clientele is mostly like my mom. But we have a gift certificate. You know I kind of dread giving them the gift certificate at the end of the meal? It seems so declasse. I wish I could say something like "Look--we COULD afford this meal but I'm not wasting the goddamn gift certificate. And anyway if I didn't have a gift certficate I'd probably go somewhere else. Okay?"

5. We actually had friends over last night but I passed out at 10pm. They stayed up til six. Six! Like a bunch of teenagers! Husband seems cheerful anyway. Inexplicable.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dear lord forgive me for I have no commas. I am writing this on my husband's debauched Mac. Full of cigarette ashes and enormous .wav files. And with a keyboard with no comma. The comma simply does not work at all. I sound breathless when I write on this thing. I've been avoiding posting because of this comma. I've realized that without commas I cannot write.

On Monday my computer blew up. Again. For the fourth time this year.

I am beginning to suspect it's me--some particular way my quarks spin that causes all laptops to explode. It doesn't matter much. The end result is I have to go to Best Buy and deal with the skinny tattoo boy or the big fat guy. Both in paper thin white shirts. Short sleeved. Who look at me like I'm insane when I march in there with purple hair saying "It's a video driver that hangs up on the boot. I think it's ATISGKAF.sys. I can still boot off the CD and I know the data is good." They don't believe me--nor do they write anything down.

Why won't they listen to me? They act very authoritative and dismissive and send the laptop somewhere remote. Where other men in thin shirts probably use my Google Desktop Search to look up dirty words and read my diary entries. "Tonight we fought over laundry and I feel really really hurt because he so doesn't listen to my needs and I really need to make sure my white shirts don't get all dingy. Oh yeah and Amanda did really well on her report card but I'm worried she's such a perfectionist." How disappointed they must be.

Anyway I decided I couldn't live without internet access at home. So I went over to the A/V department there at the Best Buy (inexplicably staffed by way cooler men than the 'puter department) and bought myself 25 feet of coaxial cable and some connectors. Hooked it all up like the nerd I am and got me some access. Only really it's not quite the same.

Working on someone else's computer is like living in someone else's brain. I've no doubt that my husband has figured a wrokaround for the comma problem. He may have even deleted "comma" from his mental list of available punctuation. He may not have any thought that involves a comma. All of his thoughts are now short and declarative--which explains a lot actually. Plus he has all these weird shortcuts that involve minimizing windows. So when I move my mouse in one or another direction everything disappears myseriously.

I'm kind of confounded by the whole situation. What kind of person can live without a comma? Who can possibly stand to have their dock so tiny and inaccessible that they keep launching programs unintentionally? Why are there five hundred items on the desktop? Is it possible for two people married ten years to think so completely differently about information?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ways in which I horrify the neighbors:

1. Sitting outside at all hours of the night and morning in my frilly nightgown, smoking cigarettes.The bright red hair does not help my reputation.
2. Driving down the curvy street while talking on my cell phone. I hate myself for this and yet can't help it.
3. Not having curtains almost anywhere. I'm waiting for "window treatments" but I've been waiting for five years, and I guess I've finally figured out that "window treatments" don't just appear out of nowhere--you have to actually hire someone to come and make them. Meanwhile, the house is like a stage. Or the set of an opera, more like, with lots of shouting and gesturing and singing.
4. Shouting "Hello!" at everyone on the street and then making conversation. It's entirely possible they just want to go home and make dinner. But there's so much of interest to discuss!
5. Letting my children walk around barefoot in the summer. Everywhere. Unless there is a scooter or bicycle involved, in which case there is a lot of annoying shouting, out in the street, about the Reasons Shoes Exist.
6. Yelling randomly out the windows "AMANDA ARE YOU WITH CHRISTOPHER OR JAMEER AND IF SO IS THERE AN ADULT WITH YOU YOU'D BETTER ANSWER ME NOW OR THERE'S NO TV FOR WEEKS!"
7. The neighbors tend to invite me to drinks more than I invite them. What they don't realize is that they are welcome for drinks any time! All they have to do is what they normally do--knock and then walk right in--only they should go ahead and help themselves from the fridge too.
8. Using their driveways as turnarounds.
9. Bitching about their ill-behaved dogs, except for the single well-behaved dog on the street, who luckily happens to live next door.
10. Not painting my house for years, and then painting it badly.
11. Getting a dumpster once a year, which always causes some great fuss--"Oh are you fixing the house?"--as though it needs to be fixed! Well, okay. But then the inevitable disappointment when I say "No, we're just throwing a buncha stuff away."
12. Forgetting everyone's name unless they are a child, eccentric, or famous.
13. Leaving piles of children's toys out back, as though no one can see them.
14. Throwing the old Christmas trees over the back deck. This is not as bad as it sounds, since it's woods out there and we're actually recycling.
15. Oh, not recycling anything but Christmas trees. And having to tell people at parties "You do know that the act of recycling is actually more environmentally objectionable than landfills." Mmm, that goes over real well.
16. Leaving my John Kerry sign up for six months in protest.

There's more, but I'm tired. Next time: ways the neighbors annoy me! No, wait, that's been this entire blog, never mind.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sometimes I like to think of my household as a corporation. You know, with a board of directors (Nick and I get the deciding votes), employees and subcontractors, a beautiful quarter acre campus (including a "rock wall" and private offices!) and a complex accounting system. We've trademarked our name, since no one else wanted it, and I think we even have a brand identity--something to do with authenticity, although we probably need help from our ad agency to really refine our positioning.

In the interview about our company, Nick and I would be very professional. "We've always considered it part of our mission to give a little back," Nick might say while taping a tip for the garbagemen onto the trashcan at Christmastime. "We strive to keep our entire organization productive and happy," I might add, while the Queen Bee happily eats broccoli and the Panda dances around the yard.

Our annual report would show that we are a good investment--while we might not have a lot of capital, we're certainly not over-leveraged, and we're committed to slow and steady growth. All of the numbers would be backed up by our accountant--I mean CFO--who could show his skills with an adding machine in a special video montage.

As a corporation, we always hew to the core principles we laid out in 1995, at our corporate "brainstorming" retreat (or, um, honeymoon) in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico:

1. We will never add a minivan to the corporate fleet. (Note: the CRV doesn't count, okay?)
2. We will always respect the board of directors, err, children.
3. Members of our organization should be trusted to make the right decisions and not be micromanaged, unless of course they refuse to put on their shoes and forget that they have to be at school at eight and dawdle over their toast.
4. We are committed to providing an aesthetically inspiring work environment, except when the Department of Public Works has a federally mandated holiday, after a large corporate event such as a birthday party, or when the Diaper Champ has run out of room.
5. While we are totally pro-worker in theory, we will not provide health benefits because we can't afford it. However, anyone who works for our company is perfectly welcome to any beer or chicken salad they can find in the fridge, and everyone is welcome to smoke in the designated smoking areas (provided they are of legal age to do so).
6. While we will not tolerate a hostile work environment, we reserve the right to wear very little around the office, particularly at 6am.

Our mission, after all, is to provide the world with the best new humans possible. We believe that doing so requires listening to the advice of our consultants and an unwavering commitment to breakfast (which ideally, ought to include eggs.)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

And so it begins... the dreaded Germs of Daycare.

The Queen Bee came home early yesterday with a 102 fever and a nose like a faucet. She tries to remain chipper--stomping around, holding various objects to her ear as though they are telephones and screaming "ALLO" like a drunken Frenchwoman--but I can tell she's not quite herself. She falls over a lot and makes this little resigned crying noise like "Eh eh eh eh." It's the noise of suffering. I know because I've made it myself.

I know that this is only the first illness among many. That in daycare, hundreds of children wipe their hands against their sticky noses and touch the communal toys, that they barf on each other and steal each other's bottles, that maybe the teachers don't sanitize their hands every five minutes. I also know this is a good thing--that when she gets to kindergarten, her immunities will be as strong as a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, and while the wussy stay-at-home kids will fall ill at a moment's notice, the Queen Bee will be like an ox. But for the year--and yes, I know from experience that it takes a year to run through all the permutations of illness--she will be leaking snot, barfing, feverish, and coughing.

And the bottom line is it breaks my heart to see my kids sick. There's nothing really like that feeling when they fall against you, exhausted and inconsolable, their hot little bodies so heavy and tired, their tears. The first time around, with the Panda, her sicknesses freaked me out so bad I would cry along with her, on the phone with the doctor late at night: "BUTSHE'SGOTAHUNDREDANDTHREEDOCTOR!" But this time I know what's serious and what's not, and I know that while I can ease her suffering, I can't make it go away altogether. A bitter lesson, because all I want is to make it magically disappear.

When I was little and had an earache--I was prone to ear infections--my mother would hold me and say, "Now put your ear up to my ear and give me the earache." "No, Mommy!" I'd tell her, "I don't want you to have an earache!" Don't worry, she'd reassure me, "I can handle that earache. I'll beat that earache for you." And so I'd put my ear against hers and I swear, there was some Mommy Mojo going on there, because damned if it didn't feel better right away.

I take heart from this. My muumma powers may be limited, but they exist, and they aren't inconsequential. When the kids are sick, it's me they want. Maybe I was endowed, upon giving birth, with a super-secret power for alleviating discomfort, even if only temporarily. I would like to think so, because it would mean I'm at least doing something.

Meanwhile, the Bee is off her feed, daycare won't take her back this week, and there's no napkin on earth that can wipe her face properly. We'll just have to get through it.

I'm about to go out and buy my daughter's birthday present. Shhh--don't tell--it's an XBox!

I'm forced to admit here that I want an XBox too. It's been years since I had a console game system. In fact, I think it was 1992, when I lived in Bolton Hill and played endless games of Super Mario Brothers 3 on my Super Nintendo. I actually got to the last level and got the princess, but it took me a whole year to do it. Yes, I devoted an entire year to playing Super Mario Brothers 3. I can even remember the feeling of the little square controller, and the way my thumb would hurt and get calloused after marathon sessions--which, given enough beer, cigarettes, and giant 7-11 sodas, could go on for up to twelve hours at a time. Ahh, my squandered youth.

These new systems are obviously much more complicated than that, so I wonder if I'll even be any good at the games. My reflexes are slower, too. Still, I think with enough button-mashing I'll be able to get the hang of it.

So, off to Target, baby in tow. If the blog doesn't get updated for a while, you'll know why.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

One night when I was newly pregnant with my youngest daughter, my husband and I headed over to the neigbhbors for some dinner. We brought the baby name book with us, because it's always entertaining to figure out what to name a baby. Reading through the A's, I got stuck on "Ava."

"What about Ava?" I asked Joanne. "Oh, that's nice!" she said. The husbands agreed. I'd never heard of anyone named Ava besides Ava Gardner, and it just sounded so beautiful to me. Besides which, it was a palindrome, and I liked the letterforms. I imagined that a little girl named Ava could have a wonderful time writing her name with multicolored markers.

So Ava it was. How unusual! I thought. She'll be the only Ava in the class! After all, my older daughter didn't know any Avas. In her world it was all Chloes and Zoes and Sophies and Emmas.

Six months after Ava was born, I found out the truth: Ava is now in the top fifty most popular names. How could I have known? I didn't mean to name her the 21st century equivalent of Megan!

There's no explanation for how I tapped into the cultural zeitgeist in this way (besides my theory that we're all actually part of a hive-mind), but this article from Slate does a pretty good job of explaining how names propagate through the culture. Evidently, names, like television commercials, are aspirational. People in lower socioeconomic classes tend to emulate the naming trends of their richer neighbors. So a name that's popular among the high-income, highly educated set now will become very popular among their poorer freinds within ten years. (Only this phenomenon can explain the explosive and inexplicable popularity of Madison, the most horrifying name on earth.)

Right now, the most popular names among the highly educated are:

Annika
Ansley
Ava
Avery
Aviva
Clementine
Eleanor
Ella
Emma
Fiona
Flannery
Grace
Isabel
Kate
Lara
Linden
Maeve
Marie-Claire
Maya
Philippa
Phoebe
Quinn
Sophie
Waverly

It was somewhat disheartening to find out that I'm really not all that creative and original, since Ava's on the list. Which means in twenty years, after the name loses cachet from overexposure, half the strippers in the world are going to have her name! (And, I might add, I don't EVEN know what to say about the name Waverly. It's a WALLPAPER, for god's sake. Waverly? You've got to be kidding me.)

Luckily we have a fallback position. Since Ava was not much more than a zygote, we took to calling her "Bee." It started as a joke--our first daughter was A, so our second daughter was B. (You have to call 'em SOMETHING when they're nothing but a little ball of cells.) But the nickname stuck. So although her official name is Ava Lily, she's more often called Bee than anything else. It's the name she responds too most readily, too. And Bee is NOT on the list! While it may not be the most dignified name (Dr. Bee? Judge Bee?) it will certainly distinguish her from the pack of Avivas and Quinns.

I hope.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Our topic today is the word "love." A meaningless word, threadbare from overuse, much like "interesting" or "nice." The kind of word that good writing teachers will tell you not to use because its very ubiquity ensures its meaninglessness. And yet we use it all the time: I love you. I just love ice cream. Hello, love. I'm in love. He loves bacon. Or, in the immortal words of Johnny Cash, "Love is a burning thing..."

Break it down into its constituent meanings, though, and love means nothing at all. Fondness, desire, attraction, infatuation, contentment, appreciation--as vague as they are, when you hear these nouns you can imagine an actual feeling, empathize with an emotion. But love? My love and your love may be qualitatively diferent. In fact, it's almost certain that they are.

We venerate love, as a culture; we imagine that it's the pinnacle of our human experience. The love between a man and a woman, a parent and a child, a person and his or her God--abstractions of specific relationships--become the ultimate unattainable goals. You imagine that at some point in your spiritual development you will be capable of that pure emotion, Love, the light of it so blinding you that all else drops away. "But I LOOOOVE him," women on Jerry Springer wail, after their hairy-backed boyfriends run off with their sisters or their mothers, as though the word itself might lift them out of their doomed existences. As though the word itself changes everything, the specifics of circumstance, the fact that they are sitting in a television studio, being jeered at.

To some degree we all do this, though mostly without recognizing our own absurdity. Love is a cloak for other, more real emotions. The word itself allows us to keep trudging from here to there, through marriages and parenthood, through family dinners and diapers. How often are we actually feeling that love? And what does it feel like when we do feel it? I have my own definition, you have yours. We might agree, momentarily, on a beautiful spring day when all feels right with the world, that we feel the same thing & call it Love. But when the night comes and it grows colder, and there's work to do and children to take care of, what do we feel then? We say it's love. We say it's love because saying it makes it real, the word a talisman that protects us from the insults of daily existence, the unfairness and impossibilities of our adult lives.

Friday, April 08, 2005

My internet connection alternated between nail-bitingly slow and nonexistent last night. When I don't have the internet, I go a little bit crazy. It feels like being locked in a room with no windows. (And yes, I'm aware that I have a problem.) I tried all my usual tricks--resetting the modem, checking the connections, and so on. As my anxiety mounted, I realized I would have to call The Evil Ones. Yes, and sit on the phone with 1-800-COMCAST for the rest of my evening.

Normally this is a chore I endure once every couple of months, sitting on hold and having them say things like "Now unplug the modem" or "Did you restart?" while I seethe inside: "YES I UNPLUGGED THE MODEM, BEE-YATCH!" Instead, though, I always say, in my sweetest voice, "Yes, I went through those steps, do you think you could have a technician come look?" This whole process is bad enough--not to mention the days I've spent waiting around for techs who never showed up, or when they did, who never had the right equipment or skills to fix the problem. (BTW, it's always, always the modem. And they never, ever have extras in the truck.)

However, tonight it was worse. Tonight it was as though the entire internet--my umbilical cord, my livelihood, the thing my entire career has been built on--nay, my entire social life--had come to a screeching halt. Because when I called Comcast, THEY WEREN'T THERE.

First it was busy. Then I got to the menu, made my selections, and was told "We are attempting to connect your call," even though I'd already been connected, supposedly, to the Comcast customer service center. "Connecting!" the voice would say, and then, horrifyingly: "We cannot connect your call to Comcast. Try again later or--" and here's where I really started to lose it--"check our website at www.comcast.net!"

Click.

I called back, frantic. Busy again.

Suddenly it dawned upon me: I no longer had access to any information. My internet connection was down. If I had an internet connection, I could probably solve the problem of its being down, right? Because I could get customer service for my downed connection over the internet! The TV couldn't help me. The phone couldn't help me. The only thing that could help me was the very thing that I had a problem with.

And then I realized, with utter horror, how totally dependent I am on this technology. How I've surrendered so much of my life to this network. I depend on it to talk to my friends, to tell me what to wear in the morning (weather-wise), to buy gifts for people, to solve problems, to communicate with the world, to create art, to find out what's going on in the world outside. I depend on it for my salary and therefore the internet is responsible for my house, my food, and my daughters' school tuitions. Perhaps this is why I want to know if it's sentient, because it controls so much of my life.

And, even more frightening--Comcast holds the keys. Yes, the men in the little white trucks, who can't be expected to keep to any schedule whatsoever, who don't seem to understand the technology in any way--they control all access to my lifeline.

So maybe a better question is: is Comcast sentient?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Down where I work, you see only two kinds of people: Office People and Tourist People. The Office People blend together--the men in their tan pants and blue shirts and sunglasses, and the women in their skirts and black heels. We Office People emerge from buildings at lunch and try and weave our way as quickly as possible through the mobs of slow-moving Tourist People in order to get lunch, or go to the bank, of for god's sake smoke a cigarette. The Tourist People are unfazed by our hurry. They move at their own pace, six abreast, and stop suddenly in front of you for no apparent reason. They are usually either quite large or have an inexplicable number of children, or both. And they are infuriating.

I can't even understand why anyone would be a Tourist in Baltimore in the first place. "Oh, honey, let's go to Baltimore and stay in a hotel for a coupla days and take a gander at that Hard Rock Cafe they got going over there." Sure, Baltimore has its charms, but they are not to be found anywhere on the promende between the ghastly screaming of the ESPN Zone and the sad little carousel at Rash Field. But there they are, tourists, wandering along the power-washed brick sidewalk, staring slackjawed at the paddleboats.

I've no identified several distinct types of tourists:
1. Tiffany and Don: Tiffany and Don are the youngish couple you see who look very angry and yell at their kids a lot. "MADISON! MADISON! YOU GET YOUR LITTLE BUTT BACK HERE!" Tiffany still looks good in a I-go-tanning-and-get-my-nails-done kinda way. Don's going to seed a bit, but still looks like he can Party. (And they both use party as a verb.) I suspect that these are daytrippers, visiting the city from their rural developments in Carroll County or wherever.
2. Grandma and Embarassed Middle Aged Daughter: Grandma stops suddenly for no apparent reason and asks complete strangers things like "Do you know where I kin get a crab claw?" while her long-suffering middle-aged daughter looks on and sighs.
3. Casey, Tracey, and Stacy: These are the teenage girls who walk around in long chains and giggle, because it's clearly the first time they've been allowed to walk around an urban area by themselves. They wear too much makeup and low-slung jeans and look at boys and then quickly look away. They brandish cell phones like shields.
4. Guy On A Cart: Why is it that the old or fat people on carts are usually by themselves? It's heartbreaking.
5. The Very Big Multi-Generational Fat Family with One Skinny Relative: I don't know why this is, but every morbidly obese tourist family always, always has one absurdly stick-thin member of their group. You can imagine them thinking "I always thought Marge had a thing for the postman and that little waif is proof."
6. Sullen Teenage Boys: This is a type I remember from my childhood--the sullen, somewhat rebellious-looking gaggle of sixteen-year-old boys. Sometimes they carry skateboards but more often than not they just try and look threatening, with unintentionally amusing results.

There they are, the families of America, bringing their slow-walkin' selves to my workaday life, all wearing white tennis shoes and not having all that much fun. Clogging up the line at my favorite chain restaurants, arguing over what to eat and where to go and why are their children not listening to them. Staring at me as I sit and smoke sullenly in front of my building, maybe even knowing from the way I look at them that at some point, I'm going to write something about them, and it might not be all that nice.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Choco turned me onto BlogPulse today, a tool that lets you see what people are talking about in the blogosphere. They have a very cool analytics tool which allows you to search for specific terms and see how much those terms have been mentioned over time. Needless to say, my status report didn't get done, because I was too busy checking to see which of my friends is most noteworthy in the blogosphere, and how often people write about topics like sex, love, and beer. (I am, evidently, the only person in the entire blogosphere who has written a SINGLE WORD on the topic of reborners in the past six months. Can you imagine?)

I think the most shocking thing to me, though, was the stats on the homepage. BlogPulse has identified 9,693,712 blogs. Nine and a half million bloggers, folks. Granted, that's worldwide, and sure, there are lots of abandoned blogs out there (um, I have a couple myself). But still, it's almost like there were these millions of people in the world with Something To Say and nowhere to say it. For thousands of years people have been just dying to make public their mundane thoughts, desires, and opinions, and now we can!

Friday, April 01, 2005

This was a week for dying. Terri Schiavo, Frank Perdue, Johnny Cochran, Mitch Hedburg, and now the Pope. Coming so soon after the ressurection of Jesus (yes, commenters, I GET IT, he was RISEN on EASTER and I failed Sunday school, whatever) the whole famous-people-dying thing seems a trifle sinister.

Although of course people die every week. And Paul Wolfowitz was just named head of the World Bank, so let's get our sinister priorities in order here.

CNN spent the whole week camped out in front of deathbeds, completely ignoring the report on Iraq intelligence in the leadup to the war, as well as the fact that we're gonna have a draft soon. I don't watch CNN-- I only know about their programming because--for some ungodly reason--my work has a giant flat screen TV in the lobby which is tuned to CNN all goddam day (instead of say, cool advertising agency shit). No reels of cool, edgy animations for us! It's the fucking second-rate daytime CNN deathwatch brigade instead. This is really inspiring to prospects and clients, as you can imagine.

Anyway, I've never been one to get all choked up about the deaths of people I don't know, but the Frank Perdue thing did resonate a little bit, if only because I spent great chunks of my childhood in the shadows of his stinky chicken factory. My nana lived right down the road from one of Perdue's plants, and on a warm day you could smell the stench for miles. To this day I won't buy Perdue chicken, because once you've smelled a thousand chickens being slaughtered at once, you never get it out of your nostrils. They are filthy little birds but I'm not convinced they deserve the ignominy of their tiny coops, waiting for nothing but their eventual brutal executions.

Which is not to say I won't enjoy fried chicken the next time I have it.

In any case, we're all on deathwatch all the time, whether or not we know it or choose to admit it. We'd all like our deaths to go smoothly and painlessly, though what we really want is NOT TO DIE.

So, here's a though experiment. For a moment, at least, think to yourself:

I am going to die, and everyone around me is going to die, and my children are going to die, and the cat will die and so will the dog, and my parents and my second-grade teacher.

Think it for as long as you can hold the thought, which will probably be about two seconds. After that it will dissipate, because it's impossible.

And then go watch Garden State, or Donnie Darko, or American Beauty. Or hell, just listen to a really, really good song.