I’ve learned that the moon is going to be monstrous tonight. Well. Big. Huge. Actually, it’s going to be closer than it has been in decades, and closer than it’ll be until 2029. I’m currently sitting in a room at a bed and breakfast in Big Bear, CA. This is the result of a hasty decision, based on the presupposition that I need some time completely alone, because I haven’t had any in a year or so. Not more than a few hours worth anyway, and according to this makeshift instruction book, I need to recharge. (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/)
Big Bear Mountain is about 7000 feet above sea level, which, combined with the forthcoming lunar perigee means that I am as close to the moon as I will likely ever be in the course of my life.*
(Yes, if I’m on a plane i guess I could be closer, during the next supermoon.)
Vacationing alone is really nice. What you overlook, in a 3 day vacation, is the amount of time negotiating and planning. Who wants to eat where? Who wants to ski? Who wants to snowboard? Who isn’t ready to go yet? Who needs to find a restroom? It’s a necessary and timely evil. A 3 day vacation alone is like 4-5 days with another person, and a week or two with a group of your friends. You can do what you want, and strangers will talk to you. This part is hard for me to adjust to, because I’m kind of shy. Still.
It’s a little disheartening that people are so… put off? by other people that if you’re in a group, they won’t even really interact, but if you’re separated from the herd, they’ll engage. I always have to fight the temptation to like… listen to my headphones, or play Solitaire, to properly occupy myself. Last night, after dinner at the Nepali/Indian cuisine restaurant I noticed one of the waitstaff staring at me.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
The answer to this has grown tricky, and I tend to try to give people the answer I think will spark most conversation.
“Florida.” (blank face)
“Well, and then I moved to Los Angeles…” (slight head shaking)
[Have you ever failed an oral exam? Imagine that feeling.]
“…uhhh but my Mom is from England?”
His face lit up, just slightly… I was getting closer.
“…but she was born in Jamaica?”
His face lit up, completely. “JAMAICAAAA!”
Oh. I get it. My hair. He needed confirmation. That’s cool, I guess. I asked him if he spoke gujarati, because I know exactly one phrase in gujarati, and honestly, the phrase is overkill, because most Indians are sorta stunned that I know that gujarati even exists. Though the cuisine was Nepalese & Indian, the waiter was straight up Nepalese, and India is a “totally different country.” I know this because he told me as much.
So I asked him to teach me how to say “Hi my name is Phil” in Nepalese. Normally this game is fun, but he got frustrated when I couldn’t get it right the second time, so he changed the subject.
By this point three or four more members of the kitchen staff had come out and were watching this exchange. I am equally comfortable and uncomfortable, being the center of attention, it just depends on the time of day I suppose.
So I chatted with him a bit longer and asked (insensitively) “How did you end up HERE!?!” (I may or may not have said “In the middle of NOWHERE?!”) and it turns out that the atmosphere/temperature/weather is very much like Nepal so it feels like home, if home was suddenly overrrun with wealthy white people on vacation. (I added that last bit, internally.)
During a lull in the conversation and I noticed the Nepalese lady to my left wanted to say something so I smiled at her. She points at my hair and says “In Nepal, only one type of person has that hair, the babas!” She then tells me that everyone loves the babas, they pray all day, and that they are very special.
I start to tell them that I have in fact heard of the babas from two distinct places. One, a painting in my house growing up, and two, a member of the group that sang “Mr. Wendall” was named Baba Oje, but it just seemed too much for the conversation, a rude amount of unrespondable detail, so I just pretended like it was totally new, and do what I always do in conversations. I asked questions.
When asked how one becomes a Baba (“Are you born into it? Or can you choose?”) someone points out that you can choose to be a Baba. So I tell them, “Well that does it. I’m going to Nepal to become a baba so I can feel special.” Laughter. Someone says “Well you are special.” Which I guess could mean retarded but I have no idea.
I asked if there are a lot of Babas in Nepal, and the lady laughs and says “We have 1000 gods and 1000 religions, it’s hard to keep up.” So I laugh, cause you can laugh at religion if they go first.
At this point the conversation had nowhere to go, and four people were looking at me expectantly so I tried to think of the most graceful way to exit the conversation, and said “Well it was very nice meeting you, how do you say Goodnight, in Nepalese?” I did -not- look at the impatient guy when I asked this question, just the lady. Women are infinitely more nurturing than men, almost unilaterally. And she taught me, and I said it, and there was a generally warm vibe as I left.
(This would never be acceptible if you both spoke the same language. I would love it, but I could never, in the lull of a conversation, turn to someone I know and say “How do you say goodbye in english? Right. Goodbye.” If someone did that to me, it’d be heartbreaking.)
Have you ever played Hearts? It’s a card game where, basically you try not to end up with crappy cards, because the cards that are “bad” are points against you. However, there’s another strategy, where you try to collect ALL the bad cards. If you can do that, you get like a billion points. It’s difficult, because people, once they find out you’re trying to do it, will try to stop you. They will -personally- take a hit, so that you don’t get that far ahead of them. I try not to think of how close this game is or isn’t to real life. The strategy is called Shooting the Moon.
This is a risky strategy, because if you try to get all the bad cards, and come up short, you have essentially screwed yourself over, and will either be forced to shoot the moon again, or just… lose.
As I sit here, with the sun coming down, being as close to the moon as I will ever be, I am both worried and excited about my own analgous life attempt at lunar marksmanship. I’m in LA, trying to do something which is improbable, an act of lunacy, if you will. The problem is I’ve already collected a lot of the “bad” cards. I don’t have a meaningful resume, or savings, I don’t have kids, I don’t even know that I have enough proficiency with any -one- thing to go get something that even approximates a real job. I have essentially painted myself into a corner where I desperately need the shoot the moon, or I’m going to just be the anti Charlie Sheen, right?
But, it’s not about winning, in any traditional sense. It’s about… I don’t know what it’s about. For a really long time, I measured my sense of self, or set goals based on the world reacting to what I do. (“I want to sell a MILLION CDs” or “I want to sell a screenplay” or “win an oscar” or whathaveyou) and I’ve only recently realized why that’s limiting.
I am a bit of a controlling person, in nature, and I don’t have ANY control over those things. I can make a CD, but who knows if it sells a million. I could write a screenplay, but ditto. And, subconsciously, knowing those things, and knowing that my goals weren’t even in my control, it seemed a little bit stupid to set those as goals. This is sort of related to my relationship with sports.
Why put so much time, energy, and emotion, into something you have no control over? It’s just a foolish thing to do. Because the chance of failing at goals that are externally dictated is so high and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. So what would happen is I would start things, and then not finish them, because I’m equally afraid of failure and success. (not the only reason, but part of it)
Without being able to explain when or why it happened, over the last few (whatevers) my mindset has changed, and my goals have shifted from “Make [this] and have [that] happen as a result.” They’ve become shorter. I just want to “Make [this]” and “Make [that].”
While it sounds like a truly minor shift, I promise you, it’s one of the more meaningful changes that’s happened to me, in years. Maybe ever? And it’s palpable. I don’t know when or why it happened I just know that I feel it.
Not that I don’t have my eye open to [potential] results of some of my activities, I’m just not wed to them the way I was. It’s not how I conceive of them in my head.
Anyway. So. Yeah. That’s all. I want to incorporate the phrase “So now I’m shooting for the moon” but that is inescapably corny. Every version of that idea is corny. “So now I’m close enough to reach out and touch it” (Gag) “The moon is in my crosshairs” (retch) “Better make room, now there’s gonna be two men on the moon” (Okay that one is so stupid it turns around to being funny, to me).
So, here are the things I’m going to make, this year, as the moon begins it’s 18 year retreat from me. It’s ambitious, but I think it has to be, because in the game, it wouldn’t be shooting the moon if it was just “kinda hard.” But the good thing about this, and what makes it different from Hearts, is that it’s not based on randomness, it’s almost entirely based on …decision making. Just deciding to do it. And that’s kinda cool.
My To Do List
a. write a script
b. film a short
c. launch a webpage/software
d. write songs for a few people
e. release a radio show/series
f. publish a book
g. write a blog
Who knows what will happen after I do those things. I’m not comfortable even guessing, I am comfortable telling you that I’m doing these things. I’m not comfortable telling you the rate at which I plan on doing them, I’m sort of shy.