Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Monday, November 08, 2004
I think I want to hold on as long as possible to my teenage days. My place of work is nearing the end of their Annual Enrollment Period for the company benefits. Among these benefits is a 401k plan which, over the two years that I have worked here, I have been told repeatedly by several people that I NEED to sign up for.

This, of course, would be the wise thing for someone to do, especially if they decided to stay with the company. At this point in my life (and the economy being what it is), I'm staying put until something better comes along or they outsource my job. So it would be a good idea for me to have something nice to fall back on when I retire from whatever job I'm going to have in the future, right?

And yet I continually refuse to sign up for it. Right now, the reason that I use is my dwindling finances, but that wasn't a problem until this year, and it won't be a problem when I move at the end of this month. So why am I so adamant against such a fiscally responsible investment?

I think the reason is because of those two words: RETIREMENT FUND. This scares me. I don't want to think about retirement. I shouldn't. I'm twenty-two years old. I should be thinking about beer bongs and term papers. I don't, of course, but I should. Saving up for retirement almost seems like a death sentence. Like I am saying, "Well, this is the road I'm traveling down until I die."

What I love about my current life situation is that it is very open. I have no clue what the future holds for me. While other people my age are getting married, having children and settling into careers, I am still pursuing the crazy dreams that I had in high school, when we all thought we would change the world. Thinking about retirement is only going to depress me and slow me down. I am keeping a death grip on being young.

This could be why the company that I've been keeping lately have been teenagers. This could also be why I have started adopting a hippie-esque lifestyle, growing my hair long and sticking an American flag sticker upside down on my car.

And it could be why I saw "The Incredibles" twice this weekend (Subject Change Alert! Subject Change Alert!) "The Incredibles" is a phenomenol film (I almost wrote "an incredible film". I'm quickly becoming one of those critics that twist the title around to comment on the film. "Jamie Foxx is a 'Ray' of light! I hope I never see-'Saw' again! I have a grudge against 'The Grudge'!" I could do this all day). The movie (the sixth by the geniuses at Pixar Studios) is extremely fun with a well-balanced blend of humor and action. It manages to convey its message without the slightest hint of cheesiness or preachiness (which, if they weren't words before, are words now).

Leaving my second viewing of "The Incredibles", I noticed a trend in the film industry. I thought about my list of the best films of 2003, which was dominated by independent fare such as "Elephant", "City of God", "American Splendor", "Lost in Translation", "Thirteen" and "The Triplets of Belleville".

This year, everything is different. "Kill Bill, Vol. 2", "The Incredibles", "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", "Spiderman 2" and "Anchorman" are taking the top spots. Granted, independent fare is still surviving, thanks to "The Dreamers", "Sideways" and "Fahrenheit 9/11". But I never thought I'd see the day that superhero movies and Will Ferrell comedies would be better than the latest offerings from Jim Jarmusch and David O. Russell.

I think that, flim-wise, this is a year of fun, when mainstream studios went the extra mile to bring us quality films while the independent studios, for the most part, took a nap. While this is an interesting switch, it only contributes to the independent/mainstream segregation that Hollywood has held for so long. I wish that the industry could continue in the direction it was going in 1999, when independent-style films were being met with big studio budgets (20th Century Fox made "Fight Club", Dreamworks made "American Beauty", Warner Bros. made "Three Kings" and Touchstone made "The Sixth Sense"). Until that happens, I guess we'll just have to look to Pixar and Charlie Kaufman (whose "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is hands-down the best movie so far this year) for hope.

In other news, I'm apparently on a suicide kick. I say "apparently" because I did not realize this until last night. I haven't been thinking about suicide. My life is very good right now. My writing is going places, I have a middle-class income and I'm dating a wonderful girl. Plus, the political climate being what it is, I'm almost required to stay alive just to see how it plays out. Besides, I think suicide is a sign of weakness, an inability to cope with the problems in your life that, while certainly daunting, are most certainly worth facing and overcoming.

But still, I've always been fascinated by the idea of it, and I think it unconsciously showed itself last night in a trip to "Borders". I was inclined for most of the day to make two purchases, and I didn't even see the connection until late that night, after having made said purchases.

The first was "The Complete Plays of Sarah Kane". Ms. Kane was an English playwright who made one of the most shocking and controversial debuts in modern theatre with her play "Blasted". She wrote about a half-dozen pieces that were either violent and bleak or surreal and cerebral. In 1999, at the age of 28, she wrote her last play "4:48 Psychosis", and hung herself one week later.

I read "4:48 Psychosis" last night, and it is the most personal, beautiful and haunting suicide note I have ever read. I can only imagine what it must be like on stage. I can't wait to read more of her books, and I kick myself that I missed the touring production of "4:48 Psychosis" that was playing in L.A. this past weekend.

The second item I bought was Elliott Smith's "From a Basement on the Hill". Smith, best known for his Oscar-nominated songs in the movie "Good Will Hunting" killed himself last year at the age of 34. This was the album that he was working on at the time, and it was recently released. I'm in the process of listening to it. It, too, is beautiful and haunting, though probably no more than Smith's previous works. However, knowing that I am listening to the voice of a ghost, I have listened to the words with more scrutiny (there's a lyric handwritten in the liner notes that reads "I'm floating in a black balloon/A long shadow in the afternoon").

Again, I didn't make the "young artists comitting suicide" connection until late last night, and it makes me wonder why I was inclined to buy these items. It also makes me glad that the guy who rang my items up didn't seem to know much about Sarah Kane or Elliott Smith. Don't worry, faithful readers, I won't be doing anything rash. Except maybe start thinking about how I would direct "4:48 Psychosis" (step one: Get my sister and Jessica Beane in on the project).

Just do the 401K and forget about it. If your company does matching funds, max it out. It's pre-tax, so mostly you won't miss it. It kind of like what my brother says about Direct-Deposit: "It's Store-bought Willpower". Just pretend it isn't there and you'll never have to worry about it.
I'm just sayin'...
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