Want to Make God Laugh?


Two Ninas is not a good movie by most people’s standards. The film, staring Ron Livingston, Amanda Peet, and Cara Buono, played for one weekend wonder, grossing just under $11,000 when it played on six screens on the 28th of January 2001. The story follows one Marty Sachs (Ron Livingston), a man with a job he hates (doing sports stats for a New York paper), and a fully written detective novel he’s shopping around. He also happens to be unlucky in love, until he happens to meet two women at the same time. Two woman who both happen to be named Nina. I love this movie.

You can figure out how the movie unfolds from the small synopsis I just gave you. During the movie Marty, tells one of the Ninas:

“If you ever want to see God laugh, make a plan.”

Or something like that. I haven’t watched the movie in long time.

The line’s context in the movie isn’t germane to this piece. I bring up the movie, and the line because I thought of it after picking up some left behind items from a now former co-worker on Thursday night.

Things didn’t go as planned on Tuesday: I picked up spokes for a wheel build I was slated to build, and rode to work on a crisp sunny day. I was excited to be out, pedaling; what was once a common place occurrence—riding to work—now felt like a luxury. Thirty minutes after picking up the spokes I was out of a job and afraid of what was going to happen next. In my rush to leave I left the following items behind: a small jar with one Aeropress’ worth of beans, the Aeropress, and my Hario hand grinder, I couldn’t really leave those things behind. There was a shitty Hamilton Beach Kettle, but I didn’t want to keep that, so hopefully someone finds a use for it.  Nate had agreed to bring them back for me.

Honestly, I was trying to get out. It was clear things weren’t going well—as they often do with small business—and I was looking for something a little more stable, and hopefully with benefits. But still, you always want any given situation to be on your terms. So, I had a plan. If I believed in god he’d be laughing. Thus, Marty’s line about plans.

Driving home from Nate’s I thought about all the plans I’d had before this one. The plan where I went to grad school, got a Ph.D. and eventually lived the life of an academic. Then I didn’t get into graduate school at either of two schools I’d applied too. The last time I got laid off I thought I’d make the transition to freelancing. I wasn’t even a quarter of the writer I was then, not that I think I’m much of one now (in the sense that I make my money as a writer, though I obviously haven’t been keeping this blog up). Way back, long before the writing, and just a little bit before the Anthropology and my imagined life as an academic (“I never have to wear a tie.” My advisor told me when I asked him why he became a professor; he was from Texas and wore a bolo tie occasionally) I thought that I would live in New York and live the life a struggling jazz musician. Instead I live in Seattle and live the life of a struggling bike shop rat.

That isn’t to say that I regret any of this. When my eventual end comes (possibly under the boot of some Trump Stormtrooper) I will know that I lived a good life, filled with mischief, hard work, and wonder, with the knowledge that I have found a better partner than I ever would have had I followed through with any of those other plans. I shouldn’t forget my daughter, who snapped me out of my tendency to not plan for the future.

We all want to live a life of our own choosing, but sometimes choice is taken from us. As I’ve stated before: I don’t believe in a high power, unless you count that vision of yourself you are always striving for. But a lack of belief does not negate the factor of fate, or, perhaps more appropriately luck, plays in ones’ life. Nothing can ever be certain. Plans, desires and conditions shift. The best I can hope for is the ability to adapt, and change course when necessary.


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