So say you're feeling kind of sad and anxious, missing some girl or whatever, but you're not totally depressed. You could go either way. It's two in the fucking morning and you have to wake up in four hours, but you can't sleep. Obviously you're going to put on a record–or open up a playlist, you damn whippersnappers… but what do you choose?

You could listen to a sad song, something old and smooth and emotionally self-destructive, something by Otis Redding or Patsy Cline. That would be true to your feelings and comforting in a familiar but unhealthy way, like that bad relationship you kept going back to until your soul resembled Leonardo DiCaprio in the subway bathroom scene from Basketball Diaries.

Or, you could put on something new and fast and irrelevant, something with clever production and loud guitars. Something to numb your heart and distract your mind, like when Americans see pictures of genocide on the news and flip over to Desperate Housewives or ESPN. Motion City Soundtrack or maybe some Hot Hot Heat.

Because these choices are important. "Which came first, the music or the misery," you know? Wallowing in beautifully harmonized self-pity starts to get a little pathetic by the time you reach your mid-twenties. But is it healthy to manipulate your feelings in order to be, well… healthy?

Maybe there's a reason all those shallow preppy kids are so happy driving around in the BMW convertibles their parents buy them, listening to Britney Spears or N*Sync or whatever the hell the music industry is shitting out these days. But do you really want to live like that? I mean, those people acquire our contempt for good reason.

So, what do you do? Hunch down in the closet with Otis and a bottle of red, waiting for the voices to tire themselves out, or play Solitaire on your laptop with Britney until she bores the hell out of you and you can go back to sleep?

Or maybe you just make up a mix of both, sort it randomly and write something slightly neurotic for your blog.