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Friday, September 27, 2002

If I were the same person in real life that I am when I drive, I might be president. Or in prison, I'm not sure which. Behind the wheel is one of the few places where I have perfect confidence. As timid and reserved as I am in real life, encased in my tin box I'm aggressive, but only to the point of getting what I want, never to the degree that I keep anyone else from advancing. And I'm articulate like you wouldn't believe.

One big difference is that when I'm driving I'm totally focused. That's why I'm so good at it, and why you should feel safe with me on the road. I'm aware of what's going on in every direction, so nothing takes me by surprise. I'm tuned in to the rhythms of the other drivers, and I can expand and contract the distance between them and me almost by instinct.

Here on the ground, not so much. My mind rarely stays focused on one task long enough to get it done quickly, efficiently, sometimes even correctly. You can probably depend on me to get it done eventually, especially if I've made a promise (or if you're paying me). But you'd better give me a deadline, and don't expect it much before the last minute.

In real life, with real people, I'm fairly sensitive to how others are feeling. I might not know what to do or say about it, but I'm dripping with empathy. I wish I had the same confidence I have while driving, about when to back off and when to move in with an arm or a shoulder. Human interactions are a mystery that I'm still exploring, tentatively. They can't teach it, and they don't give you a license for it, that's for sure.

One thing is the same, whether I'm driving a car or riding in life's passenger seat. I can get too intense for my own good, especially when I don't know where I'm going, but if I have a reachable goal and a good sense of how to get there, I'm on cruise control and at peace with the world. It just happens more often inside a car than outside.


The house lizard.

I watched the best movie today. No plot, all character development. No action, almost all talk. It was great! It's called Spring Forward, and it stars Ned Beatty and Liev Schreiber as two men who work for a small town parks department. It's constructed as a series of vignettes, mostly conversations between the two of them, as their friendship develops. It's definitely one of the most engaging films I've seen in a long time. Highly recommended, unless you're married to the idea that a movie has to have a strong story line and a lot of action.

If it hadn't been for a thumbnail review in a "new video releases" column, I never would have known about this picture. If not for that article, I would have missed this little jewel altogether. I have to dig pretty deep to find the kinds of movies I like — gentle, compassionate, kind of quirky. They get so little attention that you almost believe the old line that they don't make 'em like that any more. They do, though, and I'm glad.

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Latest recommendation:

Lucy, Aries Moon, September 26, Then my head exploded

Jon Carroll's column for September 26, Iraq! Iraq! Pay no attention to other things

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Wish List
"It's not that I want to forget (not really). It's that I want it never to have happened."

Two years ago: By Any Other Name
"For all I know, weeds are nothing more than aesthetically-challenged flowers."

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