Jill's 11/03/03 Update 11/03/03: Zombies

It's been a zombie kind of weekend.

Being Halloween and all, your mind just naturally turns to thoughts of zombies. People are dressed as zombies, there are old movies on TV about zombies, clubs are playing "Thriller" at ear-splitting decibel levels and folks jump up to do the zombie-dance we all rehearsed in 7th grade in front of the TV, you have too much Jaegermeister so you stagger around like a zombie, you don't sleep well because you ate two bowls of cereal before bed and you feel like a zombie the next day. Driving around this weekend, I kept seeing a billboard that said, "Flesh-Eating Zombies: Bothersome. Our Home Loans: Never."

The thought of a zombie being merely "bothersome" amuses me very much... like it's a persistent fly at a picnic trying to land on your sandwich, or like a piece dandruff on your collar-- something to be casually brushed away a few times until it finds a less objecting target.   "Bothersome." Hee hee!

Tonight I decided to catch up on some much-needed Knappuccino's housekeeping; I have DAT tapes from the September and October shows that needed to be burned onto CD and distributed to the performers. When I record the shows, I usually bum a few DATs off of Jeremy who has an entire breakfront full of them, though they have things recorded on them already. The nice thing about DAT is that you can stomp new material on top of old material without fear of bleedthrough. The other nice thing about DAT is that you can take a 90-minute tape and record at a slower sampling rate so you can get hours and hours of material on a 90-minute thing. Audiophiles say the sound quality is degraded with these slower sampling rates, but I certainly can't tell. Regardless, I tape my shows at the best possible resolution; but things like speech can be recorded without any real difference.

Taking material off of a DAT and importing it onto my PC happens in real time. So if someone's performance is 45 minutes, it takes 45 minutes to play the DAT and have my PC record it onto my hard drive. I'm sure there's a contraption I could purchase that would greatly shorten this time, but it's really not that big a deal; I just set it up and then go amuse myself for an hour or so, and then I come back and put in the next tape.

Before I went to sleep tonight, I hit play on my last DAT from the 10-25 Knappuccino's and set my PC to record for 90 minutes; I wanted to make sure I'd get everything off the tape, just to be safe. Three hours later (just now) I woke up and blearily tottered to the little zombie's room and I heard soft voices and was baffled (and slightly creeped out) as to the source. Apparently the sample rate of whatever was previously recorded on the DAT was set to "uber-slow" and my sound recorder software adjusted itself accordingly and was happily importing at least 2 additional hours' worth of material. I sat down in my computer chair which was lit only by the glow of my monitor, mesmerized by the voice. I had no idea what I was listening to at first-- just some guy talking -- until I realized it was an episode of This American Life. I'm not sure if it was taped off the radio or if it was from the CD set that Jeremy had bought and wanted to listen to in his car (yes, he had a DAT player in his car -- ranh). Either way, I was mesmerized... This American Life has this trance-like quality to it, and this particular piece, played now at 3:13 a.m. sucked me in.   It's a piece on monogamy.

I've attached it, at least the part that was remaining after my Knappuccino's recording ended.   If you've got 10 minutes 20 seconds to spare, listen to this now. (Right-click the link and do a "Save Target As,")   It's totally worth it.

I bring this up because tonight I went to see "Lost in Translation." I'm sure I'll have an entire entry on my reaction to this movie, but I don't think I'm able to put into words what I'm feeling quite yet. But there was one scene that really touched a nerve, and that was the scene where Charlotte and Bob are laying on a fluffy bed talking about marriage and how scary and strange it is. Bob has been married for 25 years and Charlotte only for two; yet they both seem unsettled and unhappy though not in a specific tangible way. Charlotte asks if it gets easier after 25 years, and Bob says, "The more you know who you are and what you want, the less things bother you." Frankly, the thought of spending the rest of my years on this planet in a state of merely "not bothered" doesn't entice me much.

In another scene, Bob calls home and talks to his wife-- she talks about carpet color choices and how she needs to get the kids off to school. It's a very matter-of-fact conversation where Bob is left feeling really empty and "why do I bother." I imagine his wife is feeling the same way, too. After he hangs up the phone, he mutters under his breath, "That was a stupid idea."

This scares the bejeezus out of me. Lord knows I have had forced phone conversations where I felt empty and stupid after hanging up the phone, but I felt like calling was what I was supposed to do. My initial need to call and 'connect' was replaced by this sick feeling of regret, wondering if the act of calling did more damage than it would have had I not bothered to pick up the phone. I'd rather be thought of fondly (or at least neutrally) than to have either party leave the conversation thinking, "ugh, that was stupid."

It also scares me because I see how easy it is for couples to fall into the 'routine' and forget why they got together in the first place. I like to think that couples get together because (ideally, anyway) they're good friends who geniunely enjoy each other's company and compliment each other well and they smile when they think of each other and they smile even more when they're together, and they feel more complete with each other than without. They're someone you can laugh with, you can goof off with, you can sleep in with, you wanna grow with, you look forward to exploring, you can share a bottle of wine with and most of all, can fix stuff with if something needs fixing, instead of letting it fester because you're afraid to speak up. I think once you add kids and obligation to the mixture and you take away the random roller coaster rides, it has the potential to become "stupid." It becomes liver, not the fun cake it once was. And I worry that marriage in and of itself, after a while, can only be as good as Tofutti; it's never gonna be Ben and Jerry's ever again once you pass a certain point.

What to do?   Do you embrace the reality of this and make an attempt at marriage despite of it, because you're one of the realistic smart couples who might actually have what it takes to succeed? Or do you live life as a series of year-long hopeful dating partnerships and tell the same old stupid stories about your aunt's cat and show yet another person your high school photo album just to be let down by the inevitable breakup when the relationship stops being 100% fun and starts being "serious"?

The next question, of course, is, "Does serious = unfun?"   In the dictionary, it pretty much does, yep. But in real life, is there a way to prevent "serious" from meaning, "ultimately complicated to the point of resentment"? Won't there be a time when I no longer want Ben and Jerry's or cake, and will be yearning for liver and tofutti?   (God, that's a gross example, but the point is clear-ish, I hope.)

I've got so much I want to accomplish. Part of me wants to share the journey of these events with someone. But part of me fears I'll never be able to give the events the attention they need because I'll be giving the partnership the attention it needs. So ultimately you have to decide what you are going to sacrifice and for what: Is it more important for me to try to dedicate my time to music, or would it be more fulfilling for me to let go of the selfishness and devote my energy to becoming half of a greater whole? (Who's to say I can't do both?)   For someone who never, ever, ever wanted to get married, it staggers me that these questions even enter my mind.

To add a layer of complication... it's one thing for me to choose to sacrifice a personal goal for a more mutual kind of goal. But how do you choose between mutually important things? For instance, what if my parents needed something and so did my husband, how would/could I choose what to do? At that point, the most important people in my life need me-- how could I possibly choose which one to let down? This terrifies me, especially as someone who really wants to just make people happy.

Maybe I should be using the word "compromise" instead of the word "sacrifice."

Either way, I can't imagine I'm the only person who thinks about these things.

My mother is convinced I'm too pessimistic, which is funny coming from her, the Queen of Fault-Finding (at least she does it in a humorous way... gotta give her that). My friends all say that I should give people (mostly suitors) more credit; I should stop assuming people are so needy and clingy and stupid and lemming-like and indecisive.   They try to convince me that yes Jill, a person really does exist who could give you what you want/need without drowning you. People are smart and self-sufficient (at least the people you would consider considering). Just like you would be totally understanding and supportive if someone needed to take care of something without you, you just have to be willing to open your stupid-ass eyes and SEE that other people have these qualities, too. Stop assuming that people can't handle something. Let someone tell you they can't handle it--don't make the decision for them. You'd be really upset if someone assumed you couldn't handle something and judged you as unworthy because of it.

New paragraph.

I recently saw a picture of my most excellent friend Mark holding his new nephew. I've known Mark for years, and we've always talked about how kids would be distracting and would just get in the way of us doing what we'd rather be doing. But the look on Mark's face in the photo speaks volumes-- his eyes tell a totally different tale. I called him on it, and he said in his very excellent Mark way, "Need to have kids. I must go make some."   Wha?

Mark suggested that it's an age thing; and considering how long I've known him, it makes sense that our opinions on such huge life things would certainly change over time. He speculated that as he's getting older the things that used to satisfy him 100% (sleeping in, for example) aren't doing it like they used to; and maybe he's starting to just start to sense his own mortality and some biological function is kicking in and pressing him to keep the species going. Granted, I'm much more open to the idea of having kids than I was even just a few years ago, but to say I'm itching to buy baby clothes would be horrifically inaccurate. I have many relatives and friends who are married and choose to have no children, and I'm envious of that arrangement. Of course, it makes some people ask, "Why bother getting married if you're not gonna have kids? Like, if you don't have kids, then why make breaking up that much more complicated?" The answer I hear from my childless friends and relatives is that a relationship is different once you're married-- it's actually better and cooler. It's unfathomable to know, undeniably, that someone likes you *that* much that they'd wanna publicly proclaim it and make it official. That's certainly out of my feeble grasp, and maybe that's because 786324 people have told me that I'm the greatest thing they've ever met ever ever ever, but they "just don't love me" or I'm "just not the one" for whatever reason.   blecch.

In the movie tonight, Bob says to Charlotte that having kids is the most terrifying thing in the world, and that at the moment your first one is born, your life as you ever knew it is over. Bob says something to the effect of that your kids eventually learn to walk and talk, and they become the coolest people you know, and you constantly want to hang out with them.

I can't comprehend this.

Granted, there have been 100,000 times when my niece Molly and I have connected and I have been simply awestruck by her wonder, her 6-year-old deductions about the world, the way she gets total satisfaction out of finding a pebble and a stick in the backyard and washing it with the garden hose; her insatiable thirst for knowledge about dinosaurs, geodes, bugs, music, space. I want to tell her about the ways of the world; I want to give her strategies for never losing that sense of awe -- it's that sense of awe that gets me out of bed every morning.

I am awestruck that there are birds that migrate around the world by taking the same paths every year. I am awestruck that I love cheese so much. I am awestruck that my toes work. I am awestruck that this cell right here knows to be fingernail and this cell right next to it knows to be just finger. I am awestruck that I can hear music and reproduce pitches with quasi-accuracy. I am awestruck that my parents had two children and I have a brother with whom I have so much in common (we have the same handwriting!), and that he now has kids of his own. I am awestruck that integrated circuits exist and work and run 99% of the nouns around us and that I have a friend who knows how to make them and even has patents to that end. I am awestruck that nor'easters happen. I am awestruck that leaves turn colors and that my rods and cones let me perceive it. I am awestruck that there is an emotion called "love" and even one called "like" and one that's deliciously somewhere in between.

I am awestruck at the possibility that there might be a time when I will find someone who likes me as much and in the same way that I like them to the point where I will look forward to putting me aside for the greater whole.

It's almost 6:30am, and I know I didn't wrap this thing up effectively; I didn't tie it back into zombies, I didn't come to any conclusions, and worst of all, I haven't said anything I haven't already said in previous entries.

But my excuse is, well, it's almost 6:30am, and I'm so tired, I feel like a zombie.

(Ha, I feel like a zombie now... wait until I get to my desk in a few hours.)