Tuesday, September 3, 2013

what the hell?

Today, I think I’d rather stay in bed and recite the movie to myself than watch it. Fortunately, as I recently mentioned, watching the movie can fix a bad mood.

Anyway, as I press play on the film, it occurs to me that it’s not my personal circumstances getting me down, per se. It’s that today is Day 33 and I still can’t play piano, still don’t speak French (though, neither, probably does Phil), can’t ice sculpt, won’t be going home with a nice dorky girl like Rita from a nice energetic party. In fact, I won’t be doing much of anything today. I should be throwing a Groundhog Day Project party to celebrate making it as many days as Phil does (on screen, anyway). I mean, a whole week was nice, making it a month a few days ago was great. But, this is a milestone—there won’t be another milestone for a while, the point at which I can definitively say “It’s like I said, I love this film; I’ve seen it over a hundred times.”

I should mention, however cheesy and on-the-nose the lyrics are for the song “Weatherman” whenever it comes on at the beginning of the film, I can get into it and sing along and, as I said, the mood gets better. And, I’m ready for Phil’s journey all over again.

(And, it just occurred to me that I should try blood sausage for this blog, but then again, I’m a vegetarian. I did get my hands on some sweet vermouth just so I could drink Rita’s “favorite drink.”)

The things that get me off on a potential tangent sometimes are odd. For example, I just made this video—because the one thing missing from Groundhog Day is Martin Landau exploding:

SPOILERS: That’s from 12:01. But, the tangent I was on when it occurred to me that I hadn’t made that video yet was Rita’s last name. I think it’s Harper or Hooper or something that ends in –er. It’s not a detail that’s in the movie, but neither is Mary’s name, but I use that. And, up above, I thought that line about “going home with a nice dorky girl like Rita” would read better if it included her last name. So, I run a quick Google search on “groundhog day rita harper” and the first result is a link to the Wikipedia page for Day Break—I’ve watched the series twice and totally forgot that Moon Bloodgood’s character is named Rita. Now, after I get past the second (and maybe third) TV Time Loop Day, I will have to do a couple special TV Time Loop sessions (that may have to last more than one day because of their length, obviously), watching all of Day Break again and giving Tru Blood a shot maybe as well.

Day 2 gets going on the iPad now and a couple things occur to me: I do not wake up that quickly when my alarm goes off… ever, and nowadays, the first clue that something weird was going on, at least for me, would be that the notifications on my iPad seem really familiar. I mean, Draw Something notifications repeat all the time—I’m not playing an infinite number of games with an infinite number of people—and some of my email borders on junk mail just enough that seems much the same day to day and gets deleted pretty quickly. But, then there might be a notification from Facebook or Twitter that would be exactly the same as yesterday. Maybe I wouldn’t notice immediately, but when I go to my news feed and it’s not only similar to yesterday (which happens, the way the news feed works) but exactly the same, well, then, I’d probably just recite the usual, “Facebook is boring” and click on some other app. Or I might notice that that one guy’s post about people’s “chapped lips” is the same line he posted yesterday. The window wouldn’t be much help to confirm it’s the same day, of course. I mean, I live in Southern California. There aren’t very many different ways a morning can look, plus my door faces the apartment building next to mine, not a street busy with people headed off to Gobbler’s Knob.

I live in an era where we have Groundhog Day as a reference, so, like Owen in Childrens Hospital I’d like to think I’d catch on pretty quickly, but then I’m antisocial in my real life so I’m not entirely sure how I’d take advantage of it. I think one of my early “reasons to repeat a day forever” on this blog was to clear my Netflix queue. I’d probably get that out of the way before anything more meaningful. It would be like my day wasn’t repeating at all, just summer break having a few thousand extra days in it. And, I’d be trying to think of those “pretty good days” like Phil’s day in the Virgin Islands that I’d rather be repeating. There’s a day in Pittsburgh back in 2002 that was pretty nice. There are speech competition days I would love to repeat because of stupid mistakes like a single sentence of four words—“Hegemonic decline be damned”—costing me a $100 first prize, or missing one point-of-order costing me and my debate partner advancing out of the bronze round. There are days with my kids that I would enjoy experiencing again.

I’m really not sure if any entire day would be worth repeating forever, though. Experiencing certain days a second time—that would be awesome. I could run off to Vegas again to get married. I could be in the room for my daughter’s birth. I could visit Salt Lake City to meet a girl do it right this time, or maybe keep myself from ever going there. I could spend the day with my wife and kids on Catalina Island again… there are so many days worth reliving again. But, mostly I wouldn’t want to change anything for those good days. Maybe I should be thinking about the bad days, the days like that speech competition that could be fixed with one little change. Was there a girl like Nancy Taylor I could have spent time with just by having that one conversation instead of being timid? Was there some grand experience just out of reach that I know now how to get? Or, is the point really that all of the experiences I did have, good or bad, profound or forgettable, joyous or tragic, are necessary elements of who and what I am today. Phil Connors may get the benefit of a whole lot of extra days, but really he’s just doing what all of us are doing, testing things out, making moves, refraining from others, and reaping the results, come what may. His “come what may” may be controllable in its way, but can’t we say the same for the rest of us? When we see that beautiful girl or guy across the way, we know that if we don’t do something the result is going to be painfully obvious, but still, sometimes, our insecurities get the best of us and we don’t make a move. And, we suffer for it. Or maybe life is still pretty good and there isn’t much suffering. Or maybe we make a move, and it’s the wrong move, or it turns out to be the wrong girl or the wrong guy or the wrong job or the wrong class or the wrong competition… or the wrong blog entry for the matter.

Look out the window and see the same scene, that doesn’t mean we can’t play it differently, make it better, or make it worse. Fate is such a silly idea to me. We do control our lives day to day. There are elements out of our hands, sure. Big ones sometimes. But, when we do wrong or we do right, we should own it and get on with what comes after. It doesn’t matter what day it is, whether we’ve lived it before or are barely living it now. It’s our life. We should throw snowballs when the chance arises—my last time in the snow, I made a snow rabbit with fellow speech team members and there was some throwing of snowballs and it was a good day regardless of the results at the awards… In fact, we didn’t even go to the award ceremony that day, we left early to get back to California (the tournament was in Utah). It was a long and enjoyable day, not because those were the best friends I’ve ever had or it was the best tournament I ever competed in but because it was a day where we did things we enjoyed and even did some things simply for the fun, when maybe playing in the snow in our suits might not have been the best of ideas on paper.

The best moments don’t come from planning—which is something Phil Connors is learning right now on my iPad screen. Some of the best moments are so spontaneous you can’t even remember how you got to them. How did my future wife and I end up in that field in San Francisco that one day, when that bug got in her hair and she looked so beautiful there in the grass? What were we doing walking in the dry streambed instead of the trail that day my son happened upon a snake and made what could have been a hike we’ve done numerous times into something memorable? Why didn’t I stick around in Cookeville long enough to kick some ass in that backgammon tournament I was invited to join? Why did I think that second greyhound trip to Arkansas was going to end any differently than the first? So many little things that can be altered for good or bad, but without them, I’m not me. And, without all of his choices, Phil wouldn’t be Phil. As he says—even though at the time it doesn’t quite fit with the philosophy of the line before it—“You make choices and you live with them.” Sometimes you’d rather not. Sometimes you’re glad you could. Sometimes you need to steal a groundhog or lie to a girl or put aside shallow pursuits to learn to play music. Sometimes you just need to stay in bed and let others do the living for a while.

As Phil dives to his death, I’ll be done with today’s blog entry; I can’t just list every good and bad decision I’ve ever made. For the bad ones, I am sorry. Of the good ones, I’m sure I’m proud. But, they are all the decisions I made. I can’t change them. I have scratches on me. I have dents in the fender. Just like all of you.

(The movie will keep playing for another half hour or so, then maybe I’ll go for a walk or watch a movie. I don’t know yet what I will do. And, I kind of like it that way most of the time. Knowing too much of what’s coming—that easily had to become the worst part of Phil’s day.)

(Allow me to be cheesy for a moment—as if I haven’t already been today. You know the saying “you win some, you lose some.” It’s pretty meaningless, I suppose, too obvious to matter. The thing it, it isn’t the winning or the losing that changes you. It’s the way you experience and respond to that winning or that losing that changes you.)

(Oh, and Tess’ last name was Harper. Rita’s apparently is Hanson—read it in Ryan Gilbey’s book, and he’s seen more versions of the screenplay than I have, so he’s probably right.)

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to figure out how to be as upbeat as Rita just was, and still have time to be as down as Phil was a few scenes ago, because life can’t all be ups; gotta have downs as well, or it won’t be much fun.

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