November 30th, 2007

RX: “Alias”

After watching far too many DVDs of this spy show, it occurs to me that it really is a fabulous tonic for those rough times we all experience. Because let’s face it: no matter how your family, friends, colleagues, editors, or voices inside your head are irritating you –you can’t possibly have it as bad as Sydney Bristo.

Let’s discuss.

Parents can be difficult. And the holidays can add stress to relationships that are already fraying. Do you think your mom is going to comment on how your appearance has deteriorated over the last year? Is your dad going to interrogate you about your retirement plan?

Hey—at least neither one of them was secretly a KGB agent who only got married in order to steal government secrets. And then later went on to assassinate a dozen CIA agents. And was sentenced to death for crimes against the United States government.

Romance is sticky. (Okay, yes, sometimes in a good way. But that is not what I refer to here.) Significant others can get caught up in (gasp) stuff that is not you. Work, or family, or puppy-rearing, or “Dancing with the Stars.”

But that’s far simpler to deal with than discovering that your parent murdered your significant other’s parent. Bonus: when your significant other wakes up to the fact that you are the most important thing going, and you head out for a night on the town, it is very, very unlikely that this event will bring you to the attention of murderous counter-agents.

So, say you’ve been doing something work-related a little outside your comfort zone. Say it took you an hour or so to complete. And then say the colleague who was supposed to take the project to the next (and final) level accidentally (or so he/ she claims) DELETES the project. Irretrievably.

That is still not as bad as successfully nearly completing a secret counter-mission, without your not-counter partner discovering that fact, and leaving the rest of the mission in the capable hands of the CIA, only to learn that your partner brought a back-up detonator that he proceeds to use, exploding all those agents you had just high-fived.

Or say you’ve been trying to write a piece about an organization that does tons of good work, but apparently only hires people of the Highest Levels of Obnoxiousness. And say that the Head Obnoxioso has left you an angry voicemail and sent you a cranky email. And despite the fact that he had time to do that, he has not had time to answer the questions that you politely sent him.

It could be worse: you could be tied to a chair, threatened with unwanted (and un-anesthetized) tooth-pulling by a psycho little man who smiles a lot and wears round glasses. (The downside: if you were in this situation, and you were a super-agent, you would be totally within your rights head-butting the little creep. Whereas a writer dealing with an Obnoxioso would probably only get in more trouble for doing same.)

Or say you’ve been wrestling with a piece, and you’ve finally got it under control, and you send it off to your editor, all proud, and your editor shoots it back with an editorial letter slightly longer than the piece itself.

Consider the upside: your editor may be annoyed, but it is very, very unlikely that she is going to put a hit out on you, and you will have to enter a protection program. (Unless, of course, you have also somehow violated a non-disclosure agreement. Who can say what happens in a case like that?)

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