Allowing For Uncertainty

As I continue to clean out my old drafts on this here blog, I come across this post from 2017, which only has a title. Nothing in it, just the title. WTF? Great work, 2017 me.

I am completely uncertain what it was about. And now I’m allowing for that. So I guess, if it was a message to 2020 me, it worked. Sorta.

Speaking of 2020 me and uncertainty, I recently had a synchronicity that amounts to nothing. I mean they’re supposed to be about something, right? But not this one, not that I can see. Perhaps it is for 2025 me. Maybe it will all make sense then. In the interest of filling space, I shall give it to you now….

Back when I was a wee lad in high school, my friends and I made a short film called, “Madge The Usual.” It was a sendup of quirky arthouse films, starring yours truly. A lot happens in a little time in the film, but you wouldn’t have known it the way one shot stole the show and ruined my life for at least a year: I lit a cigarette before putting it to my lips.

Yes, like a fly on the scalp of Mike Pence, all that hard work and acting was out the window. All anyone remembered was the fact that I couldn’t light a cigarette to save my scene. What sucks is, we did at least one more take where I got it right and the director didn’t use it.

It’s high school. Far better to humiliate me than get the scene right.

This little film went on to win a WGBH TV38 award of some kind. I remember getting a certificate that seemed to have everyone’s name on it but mine. So, like Trump faking a hurricane track, I magic markered it in. Just like magic, I was now a producer.

Whelp, I hadn’t thought about that flick in years. But then my mom sent me the boxes of crap I left at her place when I moved to Hawaii in 2012–just before the Mayan Calendar ended and the apocalypse came. In one of those boxes was and remains a VHS tape of Madge. I know my high school friends would love to see it again. And then take a piss on me for not knowing how to light a cigarette. Again. And I’m a giving kinda guy who wouldn’t dream of letting myself off the hook by not showing the film. They deserve a good laugh. They’re dying.

Anyone else have a record number of classmates passing away or just my high school? Again, WTF?!

So, I look up on Amazon the best el cheapo way to transfer VHS to computer so that I may post it online. The next morning, as I’m checking my email, I do something I rarely do and for no known reason at all: I check my message requests folder on Facebook. This is where people you don’t know, usually spammers and sex bots, get sent when they try to contact you. Why would anyone check that?

But I’m glad I did, for awaiting me there, top of the list, written just that morning, was a message from a stranger. A stranger who got my name through Google Books. He never said why he was searching my name through Google Books, just that he found a piece in my book, I Know Why The Alien’s Don’t Land!, about Madge The Usual.

Or maybe it was Into The End he had read. Or could it have been Free Space: The Real Life Story of A Bingo Queen? My memory is hazy. It was definitely Urgency. because God forbid anyone read I Am To Tell You This And I Am To Tell You It Is Fiction.

No, it was I Know Why The Aliens Don’t Land! I remember now. I also remember him saying he never read the fucking book, just found my name and Madge together in it. Turns out, he had also made a short film that was in the same Channel 38 contest. (“I saw yours, and yours is the only one I remember. Ours was about a volkswagen van. Hasn’t this made the whole internet worthwhile?” he wrote.)

He noted that, while he still lives in Massachusetts, he had been in Kona, on the island where I live, in January. And the reason he was writing was that he wanted to know if I had put Madge online because he wanted to show it to his friends. He thought it would blow their minds. I think he meant that it exists at all would blow their minds; the film itself is not mind-blowing.

To sum up: My mom kicks my stuff out of her house. She’s had enough. A flick I made as a kid is in with that stuff. I try to get it online just as some dude who has been bugging all of his friends for the past 30 years to believe him that he made a short film he no longer possesses, which he had entered in a contest hosted by a UHF station that likely no longer exists, decides he wants a total stranger to convince them for him by giving a link to another movie in that contest. A better movie. A winner. That has my name all over it. In magic marker. But he doesn’t know that stranger is me yet because he doesn’t remember my name. How could he?

UHF, by the way, is the dial on the TV that… Oh, fucking never mind.

To further sum up: So then this guy travels to The Big Island of Hawaii where Pele puts my name in his sweaty head. He cannot get me out of his mind. The way I lit a cigarette before putting it to my lips was just unforgettable. I must exist–I must! And so he looks me up, finds I write books he would never read, yet inside one of them… there it is. Proof. Madge The Usual existed. I am the Jeremy Vaeni he has been looking for. Therefore his film must have existed. Therefore he is vindicated. Therefore his friends can go to hell.

If only I would juuuust put it online.

I mean, that’s the only way the synchronicity makes any meaningful sense, right? Without the Pele embellishment, it’s just a huge, huge coincidence.

Could it be just that? Is this what happens with one-in-a-million coincidences in a state that has outlawed the lottery?

Scraping By On The Big Island

Tax day. I just moved to the Big Island of Hawaii so I don’t have a printer yet but I do have my tax documents on a USB stick. I try to use the landlady’s printer but her old computer isn’t cooperating.

There is a printing place up the road near the post office that charges a quarter per page. I’ll do that. Or I would have done that if it weren’t for the locked door and the sign that reads, “Due to circumstances beyond our control we are closed today.”

Poop.

I start hiking the half mile or so back home in the blazing tropical sun. when I hear “Jeremy! Jeremy!” in the distance. I look down the steep street to my left and there’s Ma from Ma’s Kava–the first Hawaiian to adopt me into her family. I jog down to her pickup truck to give her a kiss and she says, “Get in, boy. Sit with me.” I hop in. She says, “I saw you walking down the street and I said, ‘You better pick Jeremy up.'”

Awesome. She drives me back home but then passes home and asks if I need to go there. I say no, not really. I don’t mind walking back from her Kava shop, it’s a hop skip and a jump from my place. But she actually wants to cook me lunch. Unfortunately for your truly, I am a vegetarian so the meaty dish she had prepared would leave me drooling. It’s for the best, really, because I’ve got to get my taxes done.

On the walk home I have an epiphany: I can stop in at work and print the documents there! I would never have thought to do that had Ma not picked me up and shot past my place.

I do. The manager is hesitant because technically no one is allowed to use the computers for anything outside of work purposes. They are afraid of getting a virus. She feels my pain and takes the risk and I print my tax stuff.

Great! Now all I have to do is go home, sign, staple, and march back to the post office in the blazing sun. Did I mention the sun is blazing?

I stroll into the yard and my landlady is sitting outside preparing some crafts for a class she teaches. She tells me she’s driving to the post office and asks if I have anything I need her to mail. Why, yes, as a matter of fact!

She decides she’s also going grocery shopping and asks if I want in on that, so I tag along. I can’t afford to get but two items. Low on cash until my first paycheck arrives.

On the way back we talk about work-related stuff, like how I have to buy some sneakers because they don’t allow open-toe sandals. She says her husband has a spare pair he can give me if I’m the right size. Turns out I am but I gratefully decline because I feel like they give me too much as it is. In fact, when we get back, within five minutes she appears at my door with a carton of eggs from the wild chickens living in the yard, some tomatoes from the garden, and an avocado. God bless this woman.

I scuttle off to the computer room and search for my bus schedule. I need to get to a department store and buy an el cheapo pair of sneakers but I really don’t want to spend all day waiting for the bus. As I’m lining up travel times, the landlady’s husband comes to my window with spare shoes. They are new and a perfect fit.  So now I’ve got a free day to go strum on a ukulele at Ma’s Kava and hang out.

This is life on the Big island. Synchronicities line up like dominoes. This isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. It’s fascinating to witness and be immersed in. It’s a game of trust where “all” you have to do is trust that you’ll be okay and you are. The island sees to that. Maybe it’s to make up for the fact that at some point… you know, the volcano…

Mmmm… let’s not talk about that.