Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Tuesday, April 15, 2008  
Single/Zero.

Well, here it is, my first April 15 as a mortgage paying homeowner. Woo hoo.

Everyone told me it would all be worth it when April 15 arrived.

The increase in my mortgage payment because I didn’t have enough money in escrow to pay for the property tax increase assigned to my condo six months after I bought it? WORTH IT!!! My friends and family screamed in unison.

The ever mounting repair and maintenance expenses? WORTH IT!!!! My friends and family screamed in unison.

The condo association assessment fees (and increase to match our new appraisals and increased property tax)? WORTH IT!!!! My friends and family screamed in unison.

So, the first two weeks of February were devoted to sorting through all my 2007 financial documents and finding out just what my April 15 pot of gold would be now that I’m a homeowner. I had receipts for everything. Everything. Business related expenses, medical expenses, tax expenses, home repair expenses, you name it, I had receipts for it. I had my sleeves pushed up high and a baseball cap on (to take the place of one of those olde tyme visors accountants wear in olde tyme movies). I used the free tax online tax application the government offers. Which I found shockingly good, helpful and easy to use. I thought it was great.

Until I got to the end, the part where you learn how much the IRS owes you.

Okay, I mean, I admit, my expectations were unrealistically high. But everyone told me I’d get a HUGE tax return now that I’m a homeowner. People threw out example numbers in the thousands. “Enough to pay off a few medical bills and get some work done in the bathroom and kitchen?” I’d ask, and with vigorous assuredness, resounding affirmations were given. “Trill, you’ll be able to do all that and finally take a vacation.”

Wow.

This home ownership thing really is great at tax time.

Whoa, not so fast there girlie.

When I reached the end of the IRS’ tax program, I was on the edge of my seat in jubilant anticipation. I was fantasizing about paying off two MRI bills…thinking about how nice it would be to have a new faucet in the kitchen…even musing about taking a week off from work and going somewhere on a, um, what’s that thing people do when they’re not working? That place they go? What’s that called? Oh yeah, a vacation. I haven’t had one in so long I can’t remember what it is.

Which is good. Because I can’t remember what I’m missing. And that’s good because there’s not a vacation in my future. At least not this year.

That glorious, fabulous, it will all be worth it on April 15 advice I was given?


Heh heh heh. Silly Trillian, tax refunds are for people with kids!


A friend has Turbo Tax and insisted I try using that instead of the IRS’ free program. So I did. Turbo Tax “found” me less refund money than the IRS’ program. What concerned me about that was that I thought my refund should be +/- a few dollars, no matter where or who did my taxes. There difference between the TurboTax end number and the IRS’ program end number wasn’t huge, but, it was enough to concern me. Enough to make me shell out the money and go to a professional. One of my friends has a guy she swore would find me huge amounts of tax refund money.

I called to make an appointment with him. He asked me a few questions over the phone. He politely declined to do my taxes for me, even though I was referred by a long standing client of his and I was wiling to pay his fee. “Sorry, I don’t mean to be insensitive, but you don’t earn enough money, your condo isn’t valued high enough and you don’t have children or other deductions to make it worth it for me, or you, to have me prepare and file your taxes. The IRS has a great program online, now, you should just use that. In your case it shouldn’t take more than an hour, probably less.” I didn’t tell him I slaved over their program for two weeks. I just thanked him and wished him luck during the tax season. He told me he gets through it by focusing on taking his wife and getting away from the kids for a week on April 17 when he jets off to St. Barts.

How nice for him. How nice for Mrs. Tax Accountant.

I was beginning to sense what I suspected all along: Paying a mortgage and property taxes is not the rose petal strewn, chirping birds overhead path to the land of milk and honey that it's made out to be. Unless you’re making a ton of money, paying a mortgage and property taxes doesn’t do a whole heckuva lot to ease the financial tax burden of being a single/zero.

And that’s what it ultimately comes down to: If you’re single/zero, you’re a cash cow for the US government. With or without a mortgage and property tax, single/zeros with an average income pay ~37% of their gross income to taxes (depending on which state in which they reside, local taxes, property value, etc.). And I learned that “average” is staggeringly higher than I realized. Turns out I am, just like my mortgage broker said, low income in the eyes of home lenders, and low income in the eyes of a lot of other people with a higher income. And higher tax refunds.

Still concerned about the discrepancy between the IRS’ program number and Turbo Tax’s refund amount, I bit the bullet and went to nationally recognized tax preparation business.

I met a very nice woman who scoured all my receipts, plugged in every deduction she could find (and commended me for being such a nice and charitable person and promised to make a donation to the ASPCA after talking about all that they’re doing and why I donate so much of my time and as much money as I can to them) and the end result was dead center between the TurboTax refund amount and the IRS’ program refund amount.

Fortunately, fortunately I did one thing right. I didn’t make the rookie mistake of changing my deductions at work. I remained a single/zero. That saved me from having to pay, yes, PAY, income taxes this year.

Yes.

I bought a home. I pay a mortgage. I’ve entered the sacred land of the “long form.”



But I’m still a single/zero.

And my tax refund was the same paltry pittance it’s been in the past.

Next year, if I still have a job and a home, I’ll get a slightly higher refund because I’ll be able to declare property tax payments and get a little refund from the state. But those increased property taxes I paid, the ones that increased my mortgage payment because I didn’t have enough money in escrow? Yeah. Well, I don’t get credit for that because those taxes, those property tax payments, were for 2006 taxes. Sure, I paid them in 2007, but, they “don’t count” because I wasn’t a homeowner in 2006, the year the taxes were assessed.

Urrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

That made me kind of mad. But I actually kind of knew it, I just thought, well, you know, I thought I’d get so many other credits that I’d be thrilled just to have more than usual. The disturbing part is that the nice lady at the tax place “ran the numbers” for me as if I’d been able to claim the property tax payments. Probably won’t come as a surprise to any other single/zero homeowners on a low middle income that the refund would not have been significantly higher. It would not have paid my MRI bills or taken me on a vacation. It might have paid a plumber for an hour of work on my kitchen faucet.

The nice lady at the tax preparation place told me I need to earn a lot more money, or get married and try to have a baby or two if I really want to see any real tax refund.

“You’re still a single zero. Buying a home doesn’t change that for most people,” she said, apologetically. She said it, not me. Single. Zero. Might as well get it tattooed on my forehead. “But hey, at least you’re not making a landlord rich. And in thirty years you’ll be rent and mortgage free,” she added congenially, offering an apologetic smile.

Yeah. True. Thanks for reminding me.

Still, it does cushion the blow of losing my home if I lose my job. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. I tried it. I jumped into the home ownership game, I took all the advice I was given, I read and studied and hoped for the best, and ultimately without a husband, children and/or a nice hefty income, it didn’t make much difference.

Oh sure, when my hard drive crashed I could have bought a new computer instead of putting in a new hard drive. That $1,500+ business expense would have garnered me a few extra tax refund dollars. And I was just $500 shy in medical expenses to claim them on my taxes. Fingers crossed for next year! (Just in case you’re wondering, your out of pocket medical expenses have to be at least 7.5% of your gross income before you can claim them as “medical expenses.” I have no idea what they are if they total less than 7.5% of your AGI, but the government doesn’t consider them to be deduction worthy. 7.5% is a large portion of anyone’s salary. My out of pocket expenses are staggering. But I was still $500 shy of the golden deduction number. If you’ve been so sick or injured that you’re hoping to use this deduction, a) I’m sorry you’ve been so unwell and b) I’m sorry that you better be earning minimum wage and working part time if you really want to cash in on that deduction.)

But those deductions wouldn’t have added up to a hill of beans in the grand scheme of my tax refund. They would have given me a few more dollars, but they would not have taken me on vacation.

Because I am: Single/Zero.

I can’t do anything about that. No one wants to marry me and I can’t afford to be a single mother.

However, I can remind married with children people to thank their single/zero friends, relative and colleagues. Maybe even use some of your tax refund to offer to buy the single/zero in your life a drink or foot the bill for a weekend getaway. Why should you be so thankful to single/zeros? Because we’re helping foot the bill for your children’s education (presuming they go to public schools) and indirectly funding your tax return. The government gives us single/zeros less so you can have more.

You’re welcome.

Regardless of your feelings about homosexuality, you need to also thank every gay person for their generous contribution to your children’s education and your tax refund. That guy at work who’s been in a monogamous, committed relationship with another man for the past 25 years is, in the eyes of the tax forms: A single zero. Just a reminder. There’s more to the same-sex marriage issue than gay pride parades and health insurance. There are a lot of tax dollars at stake.

But hey! There is some good news! I’m on the list to get my economic stimulus check the first week of May! Woo hoo!!!! I received a notice in the mail saying I might get as much as $300! A whopping $300!!!! Okay, sure, I know a lot of other people who’ve been notified that they might get as much as $1,200, but you know, us single/zeros aren’t worthy and we don’t have as many expenses as people with children. So. You know. I understand. So rather than stimulate the economy I’ll give whatever the IRS deems me worthy of to some charities.

I know. I know. I come off sounding bitter when I start ranting about tax and the single girl.

If I could afford a bottle of booze I’d just go drink. But I can barely scrape up money for peanut butter so instead of quietly passing out drunk I’ll vent my frustration. Yep, give single/zeros tax credits for not putting a child in school (and hence draining tax dollars) and I’ll go away and shut up about this. It really is that simple. Give us a tax credit in the amount 2.5 children in a school for 12 years costs and I’ll be quiet. And my medical bills will be paid off, and I’ll hire a plumber and I’ll go on vacation.

Yes. I will stimulate the economy.

But as it stands my taxes are stimulating public school funds, schools where I have no children taking advantage of the tax funded resources. So. your kid swutting well better grow up to make this world a better place for the single/zeros who funded their education. It’s the very least they can do.

12:27 PM

 
I can't let this momentous and holy reverent day pass without quoting Meryn Cadell, sure it's a different pope, but whatever, different name, same oppressing religion, it's all papal to me:
Well, I love that man, Pope John Paul III.
I love him, probably more than he deserves.
Okay, so he persecutes homosexuals,
does not believe in abortion,
vists with Kurt Waldheim
and tells us not to take the Pill,
there's still a certain je ne sais quoi...
Some peace, some love some goodwill
Yeah, the Pope, Pope, Pope, Pope Pope.
Then he scooted away in that great Popemobile
I was feeling so trampled
I didn't know what else to feel.
Then we all kissed the ground
where John Paul had been.....
I can hardly wait
til someone famous comes to town again.

9:58 AM

Monday, April 14, 2008  
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Mom.

I have tried very, very hard, put forth extreme amounts of discipline, effort and will to void myself of emotions over the past few years. I’m convinced feeling nothing is the best thing for some people. And I’ve come a long way. I feel nothing about feeling nothing. I’m not bothered about the concept of no emotions. I’m not happy or enthused. I’m not sad or confused. I feel nothing about the concept. That’s a huge part of the process (I think) and one of the biggest hurdles. My experience has been that you have to truly be apathetic and disassociated (and a little disaffection helps, too) about feelings to void yourself of them. Good and bad, you have to be indifferent about them to freely let go of them.

How did I learn to not care about the good ones like humor and joy and bliss? Eh, no big deal. I have so few occasions to pull out the good emotions anymore that letting go of them, being apathetic about them isn’t a big deal.

Bliss? Ha! That’s such a foreign concept to me I can’t even get my mind around what it even is. I think it might be something like really good sex or Nirvana (the Hindu concept, not the band). People strive for it, work toward it, think it’s gonna be great, but my guess is that it’s a lot of build up and hype which only leads to disappointment (which ironically and poignantly is more akin to the career arc of the band, not the Hindu concept and don’t think the palindrome-ness of that irony doesn’t strike me as fundamentally profound)

So letting go of the “hope” for bliss was easy. Really easy. I’ll besmirch bliss’ reputation at the drop of a hat. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt bliss, but I think I came close once or twice. It’s overrated.

Joy? Well, see above, bliss. One time many years ago a boyfriend (you know it was a long time ago when I start bandying about the term boyfriend) took me shoe shopping. It was my birthday. He picked me up early from work, took me to lunch where copious amounts of really good Champagne were consumed and then took me shoe shopping. Yes. It was joyous. I felt joy from my head to my toes. Not so much because of the consumerism salving my centers of longing and inadequacy, or the booze salving the inhibition sector of my brain, but because my boyfriend knew me well enough and cared about me enough to plan this afternoon of alcoholic and consumeristic debauchery for me. He liked me, he really liked me. Oh sure, a month later he really liked another girl a lot more than he really liked me and gave me an “it’s not you, it’s not me, it’s this girl I met…” break-up line, thus ending the brief period of joy brought on by an erroneous feeling that he cared about me and wanted to be with me and wanted to try to make me happy. (And back then I was a generally happy person, I didn’t need to be made happy. He just wanted to do things to make me happier, he liked making me happy. And then he met a new girl and he wanted to make her happy. Whatever. People are fickle. Dating sucks. Such is life.) So that joy was short lived.

There have been other joyous moments and occasions. The Furry Creature gave me a lot of joy. A lot. He was tuned into my joy sector. Listening to music, reading words written by a gifted wordsmith or looking at certain paintings often sparks a joyous epiphany. One time I was all alone in a very isolated area of the Highlands and out of nowhere I had an overwhelming feeling that can only be described as joy. Out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere, no one else for miles (and miles) rain chucking down, and there I was, all joyous. But, those joyous moments could just be sensory reactions to environmental stimuli. Pleasing sensory reactions, but merely environmental stimuli nonetheless. Not something stirring gaily deep within my “soul.”

Eh, whatever. I don’t long for it or yearn for it. I accept it if it happens, enjoy the moment, go along for the ride, but if I never felt it again I wouldn’t feel incomplete. And it’s been a really, really long time since my senses have been environmentally stimulated.

But this voiding of emotions, this state of non-feeling being I’ve been trying to attain…it’s a process, not an event. Sometimes something sneaks up on me, catches me unaware and makes me feel.

I listened to an old Tom Waits album, yes, vinyl, that old, a few days ago. I don’t think it’s possible to actually feel joyous as a result of listening to Tom Waits, but, I did feel somewhat different, slightly epiphanatic. (h8ters: Spare me the Tom Waits email, okay? I love him, you know I love him, and if you don’t love him, cool, fine. Whatever. Rock on.) One of the reasons I was listening to Tom Waits (not that I or anyone else needs a reason to listen to Tom Waits) is because I’m trying to let go of some of my cds, vinyl and gasp, mix tapes. I mean, I have iTunes for crying out loud. But those records, I mean, they’re old friends. There is nothing like putting a record on the spindle and watching the needle drop and the music begin. I feel, yes, feel sorry for youngsters who’ve never experienced that feeling. The anticipation and the instantly gratifying fulfillment playing out in front of you is like no other experience. Simple pleasures, you know. Is that joy? I don’t think so – it’s more a sensory response thing again.

But.Tom Waits vinyl and a glass of wine on a lonely Saturday night? Yeah, well, yeah, that’sgood. Comforting. I don’t think joyous, but, very, very good.

Hey. You go to your church, I’ll go to mine.

So, I was sitting there in the dark drinking and listening to Tom put a voice on my “soul,” the cracks and pops from the scratches on the vinyl adding to Tom’s ambiance when I realized, “This is so swutting good. This feels so good. Me, Tom Waits, a scratched record, a glass of cheap wine and a cold, rainy night in a dark room. Yes. Life is good.” I was musing on whether or not that could be joy – it felt good, and it can feel really good to hurt really bad, but, can it be joy? Doubtful. But I couldn’t put that album in the “sell” pile. Something’s making me hang onto that old, scratched, warped, worn out record. Nostalgia. Sentimentality. Control. (Which, by the way, would make a fantastic cd name for an emo band: Sentimentality Control) Whatever the reason, it’s not in the pile of old friends heading out to the used record store. I feel something for that album, and for Tom Waits and I can't sell him. I'm lonely. Horribly, suicidally lonely. But. As long as there's a Tom Waits record to be heard, I'm not alone.

Dr. Strangelove. Well. Now. You know, it always comes back to Dr. Strangelove, doesn’t it? There is no disputing, no argument, that Dr. Strangelove evokes, and always has evoked, a lot of feelings. I can’t walk past a Coke machine without thinking about that scene and sniggering to myself. When a waiter asks me what I’d like to drink I smile and say, “Water, please,” but what I’m always thinking is, “Water, that's what I'm getting at, water. Mandrake, water is the source of all life. Seven-tenths of this earth's surface is water. Why, do you realize that seventy percent of you is water?” I’m not one of those movie quoting people. But. Dr. Strangelove so impacted me, so affected me, shaped so much of my perspective on art, words, comedy, politics and all that is good and visionary and genius in this world that it’s impossible for me to not hear that dialog in my head.

Yes. I regularly hear voices in my head and they are Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden and Slim Pickens.

The first time I saw Dr. Strangelove was at a dingy theater in Detroit. I was 11. It came to my dad’s attention that my education and perspective about Cold War politics and history were being shaped solely by Boris and Natasha cartoons. And while he didn’t think that was an entirely bad thing, he and my mother thought it was time to round out my Cold War education. They thought I was old enough and mature enough to get a broader perspective on the situation. So when they saw Dr. Strangelove was going to show on a big screen again, they were elated to get to see it again and take me for a lesson in politics, the military, the Cold War, The Bomb and the art of satire done to perfection.

I knew this was something really huge because my dad, reading the Sunday paper, snapped out of his usual Sunday paper blasé reverie making occasional “pfft” noises, sat up, yelled to my mother, “You won’t believe this!” He jumped up, newspaper clutched in his hand, and race-walked to my mother in the kitchen. My mother looked concerned. That look of, “Oh no. Who died?” My dad said, jabbing excitedly at the newspaper, “Look! Look! Look!” My mother’s expression changed from worry and concern to instant elation. “Do you know what this means?” she said excitedly.

“I know, I know!”

My mother, stealing a glance at me, said in hushed voice, “Do you think she’s old enough? She can be kind of impressionable about this sort of thing, the last thing we need is to cause more problems for her at school.”

“Bah! She’s old enough, and if it causes problems at school, good! Trillian! Finish your homework! We’re going to a movie after dinner tonight.”

“What are we gonna see?” I said, confused and worried about what my parents were so excited and worried about letting me see. And also embarrassed about going to a movie with my parents. Because 11 year olds dread going to movies with their parents. Especially movies their parents want them to see, “important” movies.

“Dr. Strangelove!!!!” my parents exclaimed in unison, the way I might exclaim to you that I have a backstage pass for The Pixies!!!!!

Okay. So. Somewhere in my 11 year old brain I had an inkling of an idea of what Dr. Strangelove was. But my 11 year old brain was confusing it and swirling it around with The Island of Doctor Moreau and Dr. No. My parents, my father especially, were always big James Bond fans. My dad, like most real men, manly Marine men, is fond of Sean Connery’s James Bond. So. I’d seen Dr. No. And The Island of Doctor Moreau was on my reading list for next semester and my brother had a copy of the book, a worn out paperback with weird '70s art on the cover. So a lot of (now, in hindsight) humorous thoughts and visions were running through my head during dinner before the movie.

You might wonder why I remember this all so vividly.

Well, because my life was forever changed that night. It was like falling in love. Actually, it wasn't like falling in love, it was falling in love.

My mother put her Sunday church clothes back on and my dad wore his “date” outfit, the ensemble he wore when he and my mother went out without us kids. He shaved and put on after shave for the occasion. My dad used to spin tunes on the hi-fi and whistle as he shaved and got cleaned up for a date with my mother. (He still does, but now that they’ve transitioned to CD and Bose and his version of spiffed up is blue trousers instead of tan, the pre-date excitement isn’t as palpable. He doesn’t whistle as much these days.) But, back then my parents going on a date was a bigger deal than it is now. Excitement about freedom from the kids for a few hours and a quiet meal in a restaurant has been replaced by excitement about spending time with the kids for a few hours.

But back then date night was a big deal, a deal that did not include us kids. And here we were, on a Sunday night, my dad was spinning records on the hi-fi and shaving and whistling, snapping his fingers to punctuate the Dave Brubeck beat between strokes of the razor. My mother wore a pair of “nice” earrings and a matching necklace to sexy up her church outfit. This was definitely a date. No doubt about it. It had all the benchmarks.

Except this time my parents were taking me with them.

This was unprecedented.

I felt kind of weird about wearing jeans and sneakers and a t-shirt on a date with my parents. I'd never been on a date, but, when my parents went on their dates, and when my brother and sister went on dates, and when people on tv and in movies went on dates, they got spiffed up in "good" clothes. But I was already marked out as one of the biggest dorks at school, a member of the Nerd Herd, and I didn’t want to risk falling further from grace with the cool kids at school should some of them be at the theater and see me with my parents. It would be bad enough to be seen at a theater with my parents, but worse to be seen with them, on a date, and me in my "good" clothes. At that point I was growing about one inch taller per week. I had exactly one pair of jeans which would not be considered "floods." They weren't a cool brand of jeans but in the darkness of the theater people might not notice the brand, but they would notice floods so I chose the best of the two options I had available. Long but dorky brand jeans. My brother left a bunch of stuff in his closet when he went back to college that year. He was going to graduate that year and was already making transitions to life after college. I "borrowed" a bunch of that stuff. Records. Books. And some faded, worn t-shirts. I loved the irony of me, a kid on the cusp of being a huge Clash fan, wearing outdated Steve Miller or Thin Lizzy or Endless Summer t-shirts most people were using as rags to wash the car. They were outdated when my brother had them, he only wore them to work on the car or around the house when he was home from college. Even he wouldn't have been caught dead in them for several years before I absconded, I mean borrowed them. It was my first attempt at anti-fashion ironic fashion. At least that's what I told myself in the mirror when I was getting psyched up to go out wearing one of them. And for the record I'd give anything to have that Steve Miller pegasus logo or Endless Summer t-shirt. I wore both of them well into my college years, until they fell apart in the wash. Deep down, way deep down, so deep I'd never admit it to anyone, the real reason I loved to wear them was because they were my brother's and wearing them made me feel close to him. They closed some of the physical distance between us - thousands of miles didn't seem so far when I was wearing his old t-shirts. So I opted for the Endless Summer t-shirt and a cast-off windbreaker from his tennis team days to go with my dorky jeans.

Yes. I remember exactly what I was wearing the first time I saw Dr. Strangelove. Doesn't everyone?

Fortunately the only people we saw at the theater were some of my parents’ friends and the parents of one of my friends in band (a fellow Nerd Herder). My friend’s parents gave my parents a look, that look parents give each other like, “You think she’s ready for this? We didn’t think our Jimmy was ready…” accompanied by arched eyebrows questioning my parents’ judgment. This only added to my confusion and wonderment about what we were about to see.

I sat next to my mother. My dad had his arm around my mother and when the movie started, he have me a jocular dad pat on the shoulder, like, “This is it, kiddo, here we goooo!” the type he gave me when we rode on roller coasters.

Which is an utterly appropriate comparison.

The opening sequence shot in black and white and with the broadest, biggest, shapeliest camera angles I’d ever seen slowly pulled me in (my mother fidgeting embarrassingly at the bedroom scene, patting my knee, giving me furtive glances, probably trying to figure out if I had any clue what the innuendos were in that scene and hoping and praying I was still too innocent to get it.) And then, oh glory be, then, Kubrick released the clutch and sent me catapulting and careening on a lifelong love affair with his opinions on art direction, comedy, politics and what to do with gifted actors.

I got it, all right. Boy did I get it. I was sitting laughing at the dialog and marveling at the art direction right along with my parents. (okay, I didn’t realize what art direction was at the time, but I knew it was visually very, very different from anything else I’d ever seen and I knew I would never “look” at things the same way, both literally and metaphorically) At 11, I didn’t “get it” the way my parents did, I didn’t know enough about the military, politics, the Bay of Pigs and communism, but, I got a lot of it and knew that as I got older I would get a lot more of it. And I realized that Peter Sellers is the funniest man who ever lived. Up to that point I only knew him from the Pink Panther movies, which I liked (my parents love those movies, too) but in my 11 year old mind they were verging on the Three Stooges territory. I realized I hated the Three Stooges when I was around 6 years old. At age 11, after seeing Dr. Strangelove and realizing the brilliance of Peter Sellers, I re-watched the Pink Panther movies and learned the intricacies and intelligence which sets Peter Sellers’ Pink Panthers on a level high above the anything the Three Stooges could have ever dreamed of attaining. It’s embarrassing to admit I even ever connected Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther with the Three Stooges, but hey, I was a kid. A nerdy kid.

There’s a bigger point here. What I realized that night was that my parents were intelligent, funny people. I’d kind of suspected it. But no 11 year old wants to admit that about their parents. But there we were watching Dr. Strangelove and there was the proof. There was no denying it, now: My parents were decent human beings.

Crap.

Now where would I target my impending teen angst?

You don’t ask to be born. Your parents make you be born, then you go to school and you realize life really sucks and it seems so easy and obvious to blame your parents for everything because they made you, forced you to exist, and then you are forced to face the fact that your parents are actually intelligent, funny decent human beings. Life is so unfair.

(That’s a joke, people. Really. I’m in a foul mood, but I’m still capable of sarcasm and making fun of teen angst.)

We'd make jokes about the movie, quote the dialog. After that I had inside jokes with my parents. That year I made my mother a Mother's Day card with altered movie poster art, the backs of my parents heads with my arms hugging my mother and instead of planes flying over I had birds and hearts. I replaced the movie title with, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Mom." My parents framed it. It hung in the entry way for years.

See? There's a lot of feeling there. A lot wrapped up in Dr. Strangelove. Not just the brilliance of Kubrick's vision and Sellers' (et al) comedic genius, but a lot of emotions, maybe even joy, connected with my parents and Dr. Strangelove.

That movie has been omnipresent in my life. Swut. It's been omnipotent in my life. Right up there with Douglas Adams (which, by the way, my dad gave me HGTTG for my 12th birthday. Dammit. Something else I owe to him. Along with Roald Dahl, blues, jazz, soul, and vintage rock and roll. And I owe my love to art to my mother who took me to museums every month where we'd sit and look at a painting and she'd ask me to tell her about it, what I thought about it, what I saw.)

And that's a problem. I can't stop feeling about aspects of my life which involve my parents and a few close friends. The thing is, voiding emotions is an all or nothing endeavor. You go all the way or you don't go at all. I'm not going to stop feeling about my parents. That's stupid. Cold. Weird. Impossible. So they were excluded from the start. But what I failed to recognize was that there are a lot of things, a lot of emotion inspiring things, tied to my parents. So I've learned to stop worrying about that and love my mom.

But what about Tom Waits? The Pixies? Paul Klee? Jackson Pollock? Douglas Adams? Charles Dickens? Partaking of their works means agreeing to feel something. A lot of somethings. So you either rid yourself of anything which might evoke feelings or you accept that you are simply going to have to feel an emotion now and then.

Life is so unfair.

What sparked this resurgence in voiding emotions?

My desire and efforts to void myself of emotions never waned. I've worked really hard at reaching a balance between truly feeling nothing and remaining in touch, aware and "there" for my family and close friends.

And, upsetting as the past few months have been regarding my father's health, I know I've been able to deal with it a bazillion times better than I would have a few years ago. Not because I care less or more about him, but because I've learned to ignore so many emotional impulses that I can make myself focus on the facts, learning what's going on and learning what needs to be done. Focus on the reality and practical issues regarding cancer and caring for cancer patients. Knowledge is power. Wasting time feeling can render you powerless. That's not to say I haven't been distraught, upset, sad, scared, angry, forlorn, and frustrated, just to name a few emotions I've felt in the past few months. But, when they strike I switch gears and force myself to focus on something practical. No. I'm not squelching the emotion. I know it sounds like I am, but I'm not. I'm enough in touch with myself and my feelings to know what they are at the first glimmer of a feeling. So when say, fear, for instance, hits, I force myself to have the inner dialog on fear. "Think, Trillian, think. What is fear? Fear is an emotion we learn. Why am I feeling scared? Where did I learn to feel scared? Because people suffer and die because of cancer. It happens all day and night, every day and night, in every country, to everyone. Cancer is a horrible, painful, deadly thing which hurts people and kills them. There are many noted cases on file. That's why I'm scared. Okay, fair enough. But the fact is that your dad has cancer. Being afraid of it isn't going to make it go away. So feeling afraid is pointless, solves nothing and takes time, gray matter and energy away from doing or thinking something useful. So stop whining like a scared little girl and go do more research on his cancer and find out what to expect so you can anticipate what may happen and what you can do to help your dad. You'll be ready, not overwhelmed and scared."

Dialogs like that run through my head like the CNN newscrawler. Name an emotion, good or bad, and I have a script for banishing it. What I've learned is that most emotions are pointless. Even the good ones.

I always thought I was a fairly focused person - or that I could maintain focus when it was important to do so. But holy even keel, I'm like an automaton these days. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you form an action plan every time you feel and emotion. Ask me anything about kidney and bladder cancer in males over age 65. Go ahead, ask me. See how fast I respond. I'm not saying I could lead a research team or perform an operation, but, if there's research data available I've read it. I know more about my dad's cancer than he does. I've studied the cell structures, I know what the abnormal cells look like and what the healthy normal cells look like. I know what to expect in the coming months and (statistically) two years. Does it make it "easier" to be so knowledgeable? Yes. And no. It still hurts. It's still scary. I still get angry. I don't want my dad to die and I especially don't want cancer to have its way with him. But. This is life and it's not about what I or you or anyone else wants. It's about nature and biology and the cycle of birth, disease, death. I love my dad, but tell that to cancer. In the end we're all just lumps of cells which can be clinically analyzed and explained.

This outlook has helped me deal with the latest stupidity at work. I need a job. That's just a "clinical" fact of life. Job = Money. Money = Food and Shelter. I'm trying to find a job somewhere else. I'd like to keep my current job. Why? Because I like what I do. I like my clients. Yes. I have difficulty stomaching my boss and most of my coworkers. And that's problematic. Yes, I'm getting the shaft in this situation. But. Take the emotion out of it, develop action plans. I'll still be fired, perhaps, but I didn't succumb to the emotions tangled up in this mess. I've been working on a few plans.

Part of one of those plans was talking to HR.

Hooooo boy, was that an interesting conversation.

I left "feeling" pretty good about a few things, and pretty rotten about some others. We'll see what shakes out in the next week. Could be interesting.

But. The person in HR who shall remain title-less remarked that I seemed very calm and pragmatic about what's happening. The HR person was concerned I was either in denial or ready to go postal, the calm before the storm. The title-less person knows me well enough to know I am anti violence and gun and the postal thing was a (bad) joke. But strong concern about my apparent lack of anger at a few key people was voiced.

"Ya know, I've just never been an angry person. Stuff makes me mad, but anger itself never solves anything. I just try to see the humor or devise a constructive plan for dealing with whatever makes me angry."

"That's very enlightened, Mother Teresa, but repressing emotions, especially anger, isn't the healthiest thing you can do."

"I'm not repressing anger, I'm just dealing with it, practically rather than emotionally."

"Again, very enlightened, Mother Teresa, but getting angry is part of being human. If you don't allow yourself to be human you're denying yourself, censoring yourself."

"Censorship makes me angry. And your accusation that I would censor anything or anyone, even myself, makes me angry. I don't think I like your tone. har har."

"See? There you go - making jokes about it."

"I get it, okay? I understand what you're saying and really, I'm not censoring myself. I get angry about lots of stuff."

"Like what?"

"Michael Vick. And anyone else who purposely hurts animals."

"No, Trillian, I mean things other than obvious violations of humanity."

"Must not have been that obvious, the dog abuse was going on for years before he got caught."

"Get back to work. But satisfy my curiosity. Over the next few days write down everything that makes you mad or angry and how you reacted and dealt with it - just a little or a lot. Let's see how much anger you're repressing."

Roll of eyes.

"That's first on the list. Write that down as number one: 10:47 AM. Mad at HR for telling me I'm repressing anger. Rolled eyes. Netted no results, added more fuel to the ulcer."

Okay. I got the point. I don't think I'm repressing anything, at least not to an unhealthy degree. I'm not a door mat. I'm not a ticking time bomb.

Or. Well. I dunno. Maybe I am and I just don't realize it.

So I tried the exercise.

The results so far are not surprising to me. But. I am seeing some trends. See if you see if you spot them. It's like "Where's Waldo" without the stripy sweater and scarf and hat.

12:15 PM. Bit into sandwich procured at local sub shop and discovered mushrooms on a sandwich, even though I distinctly specified "no mushrooms." Like I do every time I go into this shop. And yet they insist on putting mushrooms on my sandwiches. Mushrooms and a lot of other stuff I don't want on there. 7 out of ten sandwiches are "wrong" when I get them back to my office. Stupid, careless minimum wage employees who do not care about customer service? Perhaps, in some cases, yes, but also a language barrier. Five people working behind the counter and only one speaks broken English. The one employee translates all the orders to the other employees. This situation is rife for disaster on the customer service front, and why I continue to give them my hard earned money defies logic. Picked apart sandwich and discovered a lone stray piece of turkey in the sandwich along with an entire field of mushrooms. (Note to self: Can a vegetarian sue a restaurant which serves an animal hidden in sandwich?) Threw away entire sandwich, will have Mike and Ikes from the vending machine for lunch instead. Vowed to never step foot in the sandwich shop again.

12:25 PM. Coin changer will not accept $5 bill with new design. Okay, this doesn't make me mad, I understand the need for new designs on currency and I even like the new designs. But what makes me mad is that the entire currency recognizing machinery industry will have to be retooled to accept old and new currency designs. I should have been a product designer or engineer. Job security. Especially in industries reliant on government produced items like currency. Scrounged in purse and desk for change to buy lunch of Mike and Ikes from vending machine.

2:00 PM. New girl fighting with mother-in-law-to-be about "weddin'" plans. Again. Felt tense and anxious and embarrassed and angry for being forced to hear the personal fight. Closed office door. Read the Girl Scout pledge. Watched a Ren and Stimpy snippet on YouTube.

6:14 PM. Grocery store cashier wouldn't honor store's own coupon received on receipt at previous visit. "$5 off your next shopping order!" Cashier couldn't make the bar code scan and insisted the coupon was not valid. Paid the $5 (used the new design $5 the coin changer at work wouldn't accept and felt oddly vindicated in a man v. machine kind of way) because the line behind me was getting really long and I didn't want to be the person who made all those other people wait just because I have a $5 off your next shopping order coupon and the cashier can't get it to scan into the price reader. Put coupon in purse where it will get smushed and wrinkled and will reside on the bottom of the bag for a few months.

8:00 PM. TV sucks. It doesn't make me mad. Just thought I should log my disgust at the lowest common denominator intelligence factor in most television programming.

6:38 AM. Bo ho poseur on bus reeked of patchouli. Made me feel nauseous and tense. Moved to another seat. Still smelled the patchouli and felt more tense and consequently more angry at her for inflicting her love of things hippie onto an enclosed bus full of strangers. Got off the bus six stops early, gulped in fresh air and felt instantly better even though I had to limp an extra six blocks on my still swollen, still painful surgeried foot. It was worth it to get out of the stench of patchouli. Mused that I was like an animal who gnaws off its own leg to get out of a trap.

10:15 AM. While on my way to a meeting, passed new coworker being openly groped by her fiance in hallway. Their rudeness and lack of professionalism made me angry. I'm no prude and I'm not jealous, but shouldn't have to be subjected to that at work. She should be focusing on her work projects. Why is she being paid to plan her wedding and get groped? Rolled eyes. Went to meeting. Tried to erase the image of her fiancé's hand inside the back of her skirt burned into my retina.

10:33 AM. Felt nauseous during meeting when boss talked while eating a Twinkie, licking her lips and swishing the Twinkie around while she talked. Gross. Rude. Aaack. I cannot believe this woman is the boss of me.

11:58 PM. Can't sleep. Foot hurts. Mad at the medical community for charging ridiculous amounts of money for medically necessary treatments and medications. Wonder if I'll ever not be in pain and how much it will cost me to be pain free. Realize that's a pointless pondering. Take more pain meds.

2:30 AM. Mad at head banger neighbor for listening to Motorhead at amps at 11 volume for two hours straight. Didn't realize Motorhead had such an extensive body of work. But angry nonetheless. Knocked on door to politely ask him to turn down his stereo. Felt like a stupid old lady. He pretended to not hear me knocking on the door. Or maybe really didn't. Either way, got nowhere. Sent another email to condo association complaining about noisy neighbor. Got no gratification from that. Contemplated calling cops with a noise complaint. Didn't want to be that woman.

11:33 AM. Smell of burned microwave popcorn permeates entire office. Why? Why would someone be so thoughtless and selfish?

6:25 PM. Guy on the treadmill next to me made stupid jokes about how slow I was going and laughed when I did my backwards walking exercises on the treadmill. Tried to see the humor in it, keep things light and congenial, told him I was training for the next OK-Go video. He didn't get it. Hiked up my sweats so my huge disgusting scar was on view, hoped it would not only gross him out but make him feel really ashamed for making fun of the crippled chick at the gym. Realized how childish that was but still thought he needed a slap in the face with my reality. Jerk.

8:00 PM. Tried new sesame tofu recipe. Hated it. Mad that I spent a lot of money on ingredients for a recipe I ended up not liking and mad at myself for not being content with the existing sesame tofu recipes I have and like. Had toast and peanut butter for dinner.

11:30 PM. Pain. Really mad at the medical community for not easing this horrendous pain and swelling. Contemplate the pros and cons of gnawing off own leg.

6:34 AM. Waiting for bus. In the rain. No covered bus shelters for those of us not in the high property tax bracket. We don't pay enough property tax to deserve covered train and bus stops. Mad at Mayor Daley. In general. And because of the lack of covered bus and train stops in my part of town. Mad that I pay a lot of property taxes in this city and get little or nothing useful in return. But not mad at the feel of rain on my face. It calms me. But. Mad that a guy waiting for the bus is smoking under an umbrella. The smell of smoke mingling with the musty rain smell makes me feel ill and tense and detracts from the pleasure I was enjoying of the rain on my face. Move further away from bus stop to avoid smelling smoke. End up in the back of the queue because of this and subsequently did not get a seat and spent entire bus ride standing smushed further back into a swelling crowd of passengers with their Coughuppalottabucks, jostled by potholes the size of Rhode Island and sent careening perilously close to disaster for my surgeried foot and ankle. Apparently we have a huge illiterate community in my neighborhood because the buses very clearly state "No smoking, drinking or eating on buses, trains and stations." I should feel sorry for these illiterate people, because reading is a right, not a privilege. But still, common sense should prevail in anyone over the age of 7. Riding a bus with a hot smelly beverage splashing out of the cup as the bus jostles along pothole scarred roads doesn't make a lot of sense. Turned up the iPod, resisted urge to aggressively nod head in time to Planet of Sound but know the volume was so loud the coffee slurping/splashing co-passengers were angry at me. Score: 1 for the non-coffee drinkers on the bus. Realize this is childish. Don't care.

9:30 AM. Discover what I thought was orange yogurt is actually peach. I hate peach yogurt. Mad at myself for not studying the container better when selecting yogurt flavors. Throw it away. Go morning snackless as punishment to myself.

10:45 AM. Hear new coworker fighting on phone with someone about her "weddin'" plans. Really, really getting sick of this. Seriously. What does she actually contribute to the company and why is she getting a paycheck to argue about her "weddin'" plans?

6:15 PM. Start playlist sent by friend. Excited to have some new music for the gym. Enjoy it until an irritating song starts with a voice I know but can't quite place, look at play list, discover it's Sean Lennon. Roll eyes. Wonder why she would include this on a playlist for me. Figure it's her idea of a joke. Skip to the next song, check to see that it's not Dhani Harrison, or worse, Julian Lennon, continue workout but get riled up thinking about the Beatles and worse, all the Beatles offspring who are "musicians," remember that Ringo Starr's kid plays drums in Oasis and decide I hate Oasis even more than I realized. Decide it's more than Liam Gallagher, but also because a Beatle's kid is involved. Laugh at the realization that I've had an epiphany of anger. Suddenly realize I'm gripping the stationary bike grips so hard my fists hurt and notice my blood pressure is scoring really high even though I'm not cycling that hard. Contemplate the serious hatred I have for all things Beatles and realize I should consider therapy for this, because really all you need is love. But rather than laugh at my own stupid joke I feel even more pissed off and tense because of stupid trite smarmy pith set to irritating cutesy melodies and mediocre musicianship. I don't have a plan for dealing with my anger issues with the Beatles. There's no escape. I've spent a lifetime trying. I've tried to make peace, tried to understand, tried to live and let live, but there's no escape. They're everywhere. And they reproduced and their spawn are everywhere. For some reason I can't explain this fills me with loathing and contempt. The original Beatles b(r)and is bad enough, but the perpetuation of the b(r)and makes me mad. Probably because deep down I know it's genius marketing and I'm jealous I wasn't around to think of it first. Realize I really, seriously need professional help with this Beatles thing.

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