Venus on Mars

Madame Mars 02

Posted in Author's Notes by janmillsapps on January 22, 2014

Is this how to become everyone’s favorite Martian?

I never imagined this would result from my becoming a Mars One Round Two candidate: I’m having an all-out, interplanetary identity crisis. As one of “The 1058” (it didn’t take long for the group to coalesce around this moniker, at least on Twitter), I find myself connected to a planet I never cared for that much (the aggressive male warmongering thing) and on the verge of having to prove my Mars-worthiness so I can claim the grand prize: one of four one-way tickets to Mars.

We’ve received very little information so far. Except for those who have revealed themselves on social media sites, we have no idea who our Round Two peers are, or what we will be asked to do. There’s talk of Round Two being played out a public forum; some say we’ll be featured in a reality show, possibly a space-themed survivor contest.

How do I win the Mars game? Should I get the planet tattooed someplace showy on my bod? Wear a Jetsons-style outfit? Re-brand myself as “Madame Mars?” Better hairdo? Better makeup? Better moves? Find someone who’ll give me “celebrity” lessons (do people really do that)?

And how do I become this public person and at the same time remain myself? Today I pulled weeds in the garden, cleaned cat poop from the litter boxes, shopped for groceries because we were out of onions and OJ, and finished my course syllabus for the semester that starts next week. None of that sounds remotely Martian, and yet I can’t shake the notion that my life has irrevocably shifted into another mode and that it will never again be the same.

Last week when I went to the doctor to get my Mars One physical (passed!) and the nurse asked me why I was here, I said I need this form signed so I can go to Mars. I got absolutely no response. I repeated the last two words with more emphasis: “TO MARS.” “Sounds like fun,” she chirped back before leaving the exam room (as if she’d taken classes on identifying crackpot patients).

The nurse was right. Life goes on. Nothing much has changed. I still need to teach my classes, feed the cats, water the garden.

I don’t have to answer all the questions, not now. Eventually some will be answered for me. The spaceship doesn’t leave for 10 years.


Madame Mars 01

Posted in Author's Notes by janmillsapps on January 1, 2014
Aelita, Queen of Mars, and my new role model!

Aelita, Queen of Mars, and my new role model!

Sobering up on New Year’s Day, not from over-partying, but from over-thinking my end-of-2013 Mars news. Over 200,000 Mars One applicants vying for a one-way trip to Mars, then suddenly on Dec. 30 the applicant pool shrunk to 1058 – and I’m one of those.  My friend Bill Sheehan says those odds are about the same as becoming the village idiot. Maybe only village idiots apply for a one-way trip to Mars.

I feel like Schrödinger’s Jan: I’m going to Mars and I’m not going to Mars. Both outcomes are currently true because neither can be presently ruled out, and the box revealing the actuality won’t be opened until much later this year, possibly even next. For one reason or another, I’ve come to think of myself as a Martian – one of a handful, globally speaking, advancing to the next round that will ultimately select the first humans to move to Mars in 2025.

While I’m thrilled that I’ve actually moved a step closer to space travel (which I’ve craved since I was a kid), I keep asking myself – what do they want with ME? What role would I assume in the four-person crew – Mars grandmom? I’m among the oldest in the candidate pool, so I can only assume that “maturity” is  a desired quality for pioneering Martians.

Maybe they’re impressed by the fact that I know a lot about Mars, not only why I’d have to wear a spacesuit to take a walk there, but exactly what would happen to me if I didn’t: how all the liquids in my body would explode in a desperate attempt to equalize the pressure inside my body with the near-vacuum pressure outside. I know how my muscle tone and bone density will atrophy without customized fitness training along the way and once I arrive. I know the places to see there – Olympus Mons, Valles Marineris – and the places to avoid, like the dust-storm-prone southern plains: one appropriately named Hellas.

If they do a reality TV series – they’re hinting at this already – will anybody take this mission seriously? Will I? And there’s my answer – I’m a filmmaker who also teaches screenwriting. I’m the creative crew for this gig, one in which “on location” is ripe with uncertainties. Maybe they’ll let me telecommute from the comfort of my Earth office.