For every door that closes another door opens… so the saying goes.
Anyone ever see the movie Cube? It’s a sci-fiction movie released in 1997. Seven strangers wake up inside a cube. A similar scenario to the Twilight Zone episode 79, “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” (which I was excited to find out was the inspiration behind the idea for Cube. Isn’t it great when you pick up on such nuances before reading them on wikipedia).It is also similar to Sarte‘s “No Exit,” which was the inspiration behind episode 79.
Episode 79 spoiler* In “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” it is revealed to the audience that the five characters who wake up in a cylinder are really donated toys that believe they are living beings. This revelation is not quite as frightening as “No Exit” because if you think about it the toys are being donated so they will on christmas day be given to some boy or girl. Will this be terrifying for the toys? If they are anything like the Velvet Rabbit then no. And, eventually they will be out of the cylinder. In “No Exit” the characters are in hell, and hell as we figure out is being stuck in a room with other people with literally no exit, and most likely for all eternity. Cube takes this idea further by putting the characters in a giant cube suspended in nothing (very much like the hell jail scene in Time Bandits— you’d know it if you’d seen it). Inside the Cube is an extensive labyrinth of rooms, and each room has several doors some even on the floors and ceilings. Each room is different yet the same, and the characters along with the audience don’t ever know which way is up or down. As the characters remain longer in the cube personalities under stress appear, some become annoying, some are secretive, some are aggressive, some weak, some silent, some heroic, but each in their own turn is another’s hell. But, as far as hell goes in this film it is not just the people who are hell it is the Cube itself because if you choose the wrong door and enter the wrong room you suffer a grotesque and bloody death. Lastly, Cube never reveals why they are there or what the cube actually is. The characters never know or find out if they are in prison or in hell or in a social experiment, and neither do the audience.
In the echelon of great sci-fi movies Cube is somewhere on the lower middle end. It’s a cool idea, and the design of the cube is awesome, but the acting is pretty bad. It’s not horrific acting just not great acting. In cases like these I can never tell if it was a bad director that didn’t know how to get good scenes from the actors or if it’s just sub-par actors either way the acting is what keeps this film from reaching into the upper echelon of sci-fi.
But, I’m not really talking about a film or doing a film review in this post. I’m talking about doors closing and doors opening. In the past few years, I’ve felt my life’s journey has been a bit like the Cube. It was “No Exit” for a while, but then it seemed like I had some options of doors, yet each one I tried to open felt a bit like getting emotionally eviscerated. As each door closed, and had some pendulum swing across the room to cut me in two, I’d turn and find no other door open. I’d stand facing the same exact door. The idea of thinking outside of the box was becoming more and more desperate to me, but I felt creatively stumped as how to move my life experience forward and survive— no, not survive, but to live well. As the third rejection letter from grad school came in I began to think about an alternative plan, a plan b. Once I read the blurb on Irvine’s MFA creative writing page, if you don’t hear from us you didn’t get in (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) I started making the move towards plan b.
Plan B is scarier then Plan A. It has nothing to do with honing my craft of writing— although it could. It has nothing to do with networking with other writers— although I don’t really know if that matters, and it also could end with me networking with writers more like myself. It has nothing to do with getting a masters that tells me “I AM A MASTER WRITER”- but it wont stop me from becoming a better writer. It will give me teaching experience and that is about the only thing it has in common with graduate school. My rejections from my grad programs did not deter me from being a writer. I deter me from being a writer regardless of what I’m trying to achieve. My applying to grad school was not just about becoming a better writer with access to other writers and connections in the writing world it was about opening a goddamn door that went somewhere and led me out of this room. It wasn’t the right door. Even though it is a common door and many people try that door and find it does open and it leads somewhere, it didn’t work for me. Not at this time.
In Cube we find out that the cube is always moving like a Rubik’s cube so even if it is the right door and the right room if you don’t open it at the right time and be quick about going into the room the room will change, and a laser will cut you in half. You off course don’t know when or why the cube moves. Sound like life? The laser is of course a metaphor (I hope).
So the door closed once again, but plan b was in action. Three weeks ago, I e-mailed off an application. Last Wednesday, I had an interview over skype, and the following day, Thursday, I was hired. Just like that a new door opened. A door that leads far off to the East farther than I’ve ever gone. I’m nervous about such a huge change and excited for the change for the possibilities, and the challenges, and of course the potential for new stories. In August with just a few bags I will walk through this door that I never saw until a month ago, and once I’m over the threshold, I’ll be working as a literature teacher and leading drama classes in Zhengzhou, China.
There’s more to come. There is more to come.