Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Fast Car

Some days, we learn too much about everything that we prostitute so we can have a wee bit of belonging and meaning in our lives. Today has been one of those days for me;

Fast Car

by Tracy Chapman

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere

Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

You see my old man’s got a problem
He live with the bottle that’s the way it is
He says his body’s too old for working
I say his body’s too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody’s got to take care of him
So I quit school and that’s what I did

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain’t got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You’ll find work and I’ll get promoted
We’ll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs
You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I’d always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain’t going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way


  1. #1 Bob O'H
    June 23, 2007

    Hmm, you’re being enigmatic. I’m sure I won’t be the only one worrying about you until we know if this is this good or bad.


  2. #2 Chris' Wills
    June 23, 2007

    I’ll echo Bob O’H. I really hope that whatever it is, it is good.

  3. #3 The Ridger
    June 23, 2007

    Count me in on that hope.

  4. #4 cephyn
    June 23, 2007

    Something about getting out of town and being forever free really appealed to me yesterday.

  5. #5 daedalus2u
    June 23, 2007

    I think the song lyrics are a comment on how things don’t always turn out as we plan, that what may look like a solution in the short term becomes a problem in the long term.

    I see it as the strategy of applying stochastic resonance to your life. If you are stuck in a rut, you need to provide the activation energy to get out and over the hump. You need to get out of the local minimum that you are stuck in. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do “something”. But actually, what you do does matter.

    But once you free yourself from the local minimum, there are always even deeper minima nearby. It is very easy to get into deeper and deeper minima. Each of which is harder to get out of than the one before, so it takes a greater activation energy, taking greater chances. Like the expression “out of the frying pan and into the fire”.

    I think it mostly relates to the time scale of risk/reward. The shorter the time scale you “need”, the greater risks you are willing to take for immediate rewards at the expense of longer term risk/adverse effects.

    I see this as related to NO physiology. Low NO leads to low ATP and invocation of the “fight or flight” state of physiology which shortens the time scale of risk/reward balancing. Short term things that raise NO (ie affection), become more valued than long term things.

    (this reflects my thoughts on the lyrics, not what is or is not going on in GrrlScientist’ life.

  6. #6 Library Diva
    June 23, 2007

    I don’t know what to say, other than that I’m thinking of you and you can call or email if you want someone to talk to. It’s a shitty cold day here, good for nothing but packing and cleaning (OK, and maybe reading some of my pirate book too). I’ll be around, and thinking of you.

  7. #7 HerpGrrl
    June 23, 2007

    Hi GrrlScientist, just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you today. I’m glad you got the sound fixed on your laptop. Hang in there.

  8. #8 Diane in Ohio
    June 24, 2007

    Ohhhh, Tracy Chapman is one of my favorite singers! She has a way with words – for sure, and a bluesy style. Even with all the bad it will get better…for both of us! Take care Hedwig and know that I miss participating online. Di :o)

  9. #9 Hai~Ren
    June 24, 2007

    I too hope that whatever it is you’re going through, that you’ll be able to stay strong.

  10. #10 "GrrlScientist"
    June 24, 2007

    it’s bad, but it is all my fault because i am so stupid. but i survived it, so you all are stuck with me. sorry about that.

  11. #11 Carl Manaster
    June 24, 2007

    Not to be contrary, Grrl, but you’re not stupid, and we’re not stuck. I’m glad you survived whatever it was, and happy to have you with us.

  12. #12 daedalus2u
    June 24, 2007

    Some more thoughts on this. Under “stress”, or “fight or flight”, the time scale for evaluating risks or costs vs rewards is shortened. When two individuals are negotiating, the one with the shorter time scale is at a disadvantage. I think this is one reason that a common tactic of negotiation is to put your opponent under as much stress as possible.

    In effect, “stress” increases the interest rate one is willing to pay for something immediate. In economic terms, it effectively increases the “discount rate”. Future costs or adverse effects have less negative value than immediate gains. I think that stimulant drugs of abuse mimic this effect of “stress”, and so weight short term immediate gratification over longer term consequences.

    There is nothing irrational or stupid about this. It is a necessary feature for survival. One has to make value judgments that change depending on circumstance. Do you run from the bear and risk stubbing your toe, or do you let the bear catch you? Invoke that feeling with drugs, and then just lying there is worth running yourself to death, getting hepatitis, HIV, or letting your children starve.

  13. #13 Chris' Wills
    June 25, 2007

    it’s bad, but it is all my fault because i am so stupid. but i survived it, so you all are stuck with me. sorry about that.
    Posted by: “GrrlScientist”

    Well don’t be sorry.
    Lots of people would miss your blog, well me anyway :o)

    Glad to hear that you survived.

  14. #14 Bob O'H
    June 25, 2007

    Phew, glad you survived it – I’ve been worrying all weekend (OK, OK, I should get my own life).


  15. #15 Luna_the_cat
    June 25, 2007

    GrrlScientist: You’re not stupid, and we’re not “stuck” with you. We like you, or we wouldn’t be here reading and commenting. We worry about you. And I hope it’s all ok…or as ok as it can be…please let us know.

  16. #16 David Harmon
    June 25, 2007

    “Everybody plays the fool sometimes…” I hope you’re feeling better soon.

New comments have been disabled.