The song: "Momentum," Aimee Mann. Words and music by Aimee Mann. Track 2 of Magnolia, 1999
How/when acquired: Purchased CD, c. February 2000
I don't own a lot of DVDs, and approximately half of that collection were gifts. Magnolia is one of a handful of films I bought myself. I watch it when I'm feeling stressed, to remind myself I'm not alone (or even, at any given time, especially bad off).
This song, in particular, was a revelation. People who knew and worked with me in Washington in the 1990s are likely to remember me (if at all) as tense, sharp and angry. I remember myself that way, but it was all about fear. I had one of those Washington jobs that's impossible to explain to anyone outside D.C. (association executive), and had managed to convince myself not only of its importance but of its urgency — fueled by nothing but the fear that I would be discovered as an incompetent impostor. Once people discovered my secret I'd be fired, and without my job, who would I be?
Magnolia came out soon after I moved from Washington to Los Angeles, and the movie's soundtrack became my own for most of that first year. I had many reasons to leave Washington and an equal number of reasons to land in Los Angeles, but in retrospect the most important one was just to find out who I was when those fears weren't driving me.
Of course, I traded in the D.C. fears for a whole set of new ones, but that's life in a Darwinian universe. And my big decisions still require a certain critical mass of fear — because the law of momentum says that objects at rest tend to remain at rest.