So I took several days off after writing the “Corporal” post. They were an interesting several days. Let’s begin with the immediate aftermath.
It took less than ten minutes after my announcement of “I have time to be in the next play” for someone to solicit me for the role of producer via SMS. It took less than an hour for a separate person to similarly solicit me via Facebook. It took less than 8 hours for someone to call me, realize that it was 1:00 AM and that they’d woken me from a dead sleep, then end the conversation with an “I’ll talk to you tomorrow” before she could even tell me she was trying to solicit me for the role of producer as well.
And the next morning I found myself on base waiting to start weekend guard duty. Oh, right. Friday. It’s still weird to realize that most of my friends now won’t answer a phone after a certain hour on Friday. My first shift ends at 3:00 in the afternoon, and considering when she called me I can’t very well bug her *too* early. But if I don’t bug her, I’ll have to wait in suspense until Saturday night. I call her at 11:30, just before the officer starts going over all the instructions we’ve already heard before, but she’s not available. “Call me back after 3:00,” I say to whoever that guy was that picked up the phone hopefully.
Right. So then the officer goes over all the instructions we’ve already heard before. In greater detail than I’ve ever heard them before. More slowly than I’ve ever heard them read. In fact, by the time he finishes, my first shift is supposed to have already started, and I haven’t eaten lunch, and nobody’s played Duck Hunt yet (which we’re all required to do before we go on guard duty, but most people don’t).
I’m not going to describe the solution to that problem. It’s possibly a breach of security, I don’t know, but I’m playing it safe. Suffice it to say, it was kind of stupid.
Okay, first shift. I should note that on my base, there are two zones, each with two standing positions and one patrol position in terms of stations for guys. Standing positions require one person, patrols require two. For my own reasons, I really want a standing position in Zone A. So obviously I got the patrol in Zone B. I was really annoyed about that, until I found out that my partner was a leftist. And he knew as much about Bob Dylan as I did. And he was reasonably familiar with the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. So I guess karma managed to balance things out.
Most officers don’t make a big deal about not being in the guard bunks between shifts. This one did. I spent all my time between shifts in my office instead of the guard bunks, though, so you can see how much good that did him.
Off of my first shift. Time to call that person again. Not available. Oh, come on! I can see the sun setting from my window, and this nagging curiosity eats at me, my frustration building. Oh well. I’ll have to wait for Saturday night.
It occurs to me at some point that my first Shabbat on base was less than a year ago, and that I thought it was so cool to see this place that was normally packed with moving people while it was turned off. While it was dead. Now I can’t even conjure that feeling back up by force.
So a day passes with intervals of guarding, playing guitar, figuring out when the cafeteria is open, and sleeping. At some point I said to myself “wow, I sure wish I had some manga with me, Carlos,” in a very pointed manner at a guy who wasn’t there and isn’t really named Carlos. My guard partner turned out to be a remarkably interesting fellow, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be, considering the position was the opposite of what I wanted.
And then the sun set. I don’t know when religious people turn their phones back on, and food takes precedence anyway. Food is food, and I grab a shoko (plastic bag filled with chocolate milk… it’s great) from the cafeteria and go back to my office. A few of you know where this is going.
So sometimes I do stupid things. Sometimes I throw things in the air just because I want to throw things in the air. Sometimes I try to juggle. Sometimes I’ll toss a plastic bag filled with chocolate milk ahead of me, then run to catch it. In the darkened hallway of my office, at around 8:00 at night, I did just that.
And I missed.
And there was a split second where time slowed down and a black puddle spread out before me. And then there was a split second where time sped up again and somehow I found myself, without interval, flat on my back on the floor, with the wind completely knocked out of me.
“Ew,” you must be thinking to yourselves, “he must have been covered in chocolate milk.” As a matter of fact, no. By that same karma that gave me a crappy station but a good partner, I ended up skidding far enough that I was completely out of the range of chocolate milk as I fell flat on my back.
So I got up and spent the next minute or so trying to breathe. Then I turned around. Milk everywhere. Gotta clean it up. Rag, squeegee, water… phone rings. Gah! Shut up phone, I’m cleaning. Clean, clean, clean… call back.
“We want you to be producer,” she says.
“Ha! I knew it!” I cry. “Ow! My back!” I whine.
So what do I do? Am I capable of doing this job? Do I have time? I’ve just been turned down for a leadership position that I’ve been pursuing for almost a year, and immediately after that people are offering me one that I never actually expressed any interest in. Is that affecting my decision? Is my ridiculous lack of sleep and the shock of having slipped and fell on chocolate milk affecting my decision?
So I put it off.
Mistake. Between the adrenaline one gets when doing something as stupid as getting the wind knocked out of you and the excitement one gets when one is faced with an incredibly tempting proposition, I didn’t sleep at all that night.
Which made the next morning fairly interesting. Missed breakfast on base. Ate at home. Shower. Oh God, shower. My turn to clean the apartment. Cleaned the apartment. Got to the city hall and managed to find out what I needed to do, but did not manage to do it. Got to the post office and realized I wasn’t sure what I needed to mail.
Oh well. I’d been planning on hanging out with a friend who happened to be directing the next play, so I went to hang out with a friend who happened to be directing the next play. Somewhere in the middle of Tim Burton’s Batman my subconscious remembered, “hey, you haven’t really slept in a looooong time.” And so I suddenly found myself asleep on a couch.
I’m not sure how we ended up watching BBC’s Sherlock, but we did, and then we talked about what my role would be as hypothetical producer, and I dodged a straight answer, and then that girl with whom I had played telephone tag called again.
“We need an answer.”
“But I don’t want to answer!”
“But, but, but…”
“That’s not an answer!”
And so the director showed me highlights from the movie version of the play. And at some point, my mind drifted to something I wrote a while ago. Spontaneity. And it clicked. I’m never going to know all the answers, but sometimes if I really want to do something I just have to go and do it.
So I went and did it. It’s pretty exciting.