fighting problems with bigger problems

this is my mom, a long time before i was born.  isn’t she pretty?  isn’t it nice to have a pretty mom?

today i at work i listened to an episode of this american life about people who have killed people or thought they killed people.  even though i have heard a couple of the stories before, in that context it was pretty amazing.  the final guy, a guy with ptsd from iraq, was probably the best reason i have ever heard for ending war and really getting serious about no more state-sanctioned murder.  it’s so easy to get all crazy and angry at a person or a group of people and say, let’s end them, let’s put that fucker in the electric chair.  all our movies and tv shows make it seem so simple and cut and dry: bad guy.  done.  but even if we all agree that someone or some group is bad (nazis, terrorists, rapists) (which no one could actually get consensus out of the whole world on ANYONE deserving to die so come on) what about the dude who has to kill them?  no.  let’s just stop it, okay?

but that isn’t even what i was planning on writing about.  i was going to say that at the end of that episode they played an elliot smith song which started me on a full two hours of elliott smith.  strangely, it didn’t make me sad.  i live in california now and it was sunny even from where i was sitting (a cubicle in the middle of the office).  but it made me NOSTALGIC for a different kind of sadness.  that sort of pure, first-time, movie stomach punch that i felt when i was 20 years old.  elliott smith sad.  tragic like 2001, pre-11, when i was completely devastated by the whole catholic church’s effect on one boy and i was so involved in myself that i could just focus on it, cry all day, like there was nothing worse in the universe.  like this thing was happening to me that had never happened to another person.  before i cared about global warming or paying my rent or getting a meal or dressing myself and getting out of bed so i don’t fired. when i could write long letters and SEND THEM.  make bike trips in the rain.

jesus.  it was dramatic.

now i am sad in a more grown-up way.  first, i’ve been totally devastated by love or “love” or whatever already so i know i will probably survive.  i was pretty sure that would NOT be the case before.  second, this world is severely messed and any time i get too sad i feel insanely guilty about it.  oh, my boyfriend left me for art.  oooh, well at least he didn’t come home from iraq dead or too scared to sleep at night with dreams about shaking our baby to death.  at least we don’t have a baby.  plus, hello?  SOMALIA.  and i have a job and the internet and sometimes i do feel like getting hella dramatic, riding my bike somewhere and throwing rocks at a window.  and then i’m like, eh, that sounds like a lot of effort and very little payout.  kind of like getting drunk.  i can’t get drunk with abandon anymore because it is so much goddamn effort, so expensive, and the physical and emotional fall-out just seem like a waste of time.

i wonder what would have happened if elliot smith just hung on a little longer.  killing anyone is really final but killing yourself is the most final.  i wish he was still making music.  something acoustic for 27-almost-28 year olds who work in cubicles and are pretty sure that by the time they are 40 their inability to speak chinese will have placed them out of the job market except for manual labor in factories making ipad deluxe implants for babies.

oh well.  rest in peace dude.

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