So this new Aimee Mann album is excellent.
I gave it a headphones-in listen last night while grilling and damn near had an out-of-body experience when I got to the chorus of “Patient Zero,” which reads:
Life is good
You look around and think I’m in the right neighborhood
But honey you just moved in
Life is grand
And wouldn’t you like to have it go as planned
What a thing to have sung to you while standing in the backyard of your new home on a windy night, watching clouds zoom past the moon. That place she’s describing — the pocket of time before life grabs hold of the course you’ve plotted and adds twists and turns to it — that’s exactly where my family is right now.
And that ominous subtext… I feel that, too. This may sound strange, but it reminds me of carbon dating and how each of us carries around tiny amounts (hopefully) of radioactivity in the form of radiocarbon. You stop exchanging it with the environment when you die, and the degree of decay is what tells scientists when you lived, but part of being alive is having this weird, low-level hum going on inside you at all times. I feel like the chorus of “Patient Zero” hums that way, only instead of radioactivity, it’s putting off the trace amount of doubt that even an optimist can’t escape. Being subject to fate can be frustrating, especially when it comes to mortgages, but it’s the cost of still being alive.
Did I mention the video stars Josh Lyman?