I love the beach. I love the waves coming in. The birds trolling for food. People walking. Baby turtles achieving their first challenge by making it from the nest to the ocean.
It’s not just the beach. I love water, moving water. Rivers, streams, waterfalls, even fountains. I find moving water very soothing. I think it has to do with my fire nature.
Seattle has lots of water. We have Puget Sound, Greenlake, Lake Union, Lake Washington, and numerous other bodies of water. But I never seem to live near one. It’s a trek to visit. At least a bus ride.
And once a year, I try to make it down to L.A. or usually San Diego. I get a room on the beach and just spend some time reading, walking, and groking the Pacific Ocean. I love it.
Then One Day
Then, one day I decided that it wasn’t fair that I had to jump so many hurdles just to be near moving water. I wanted to be able to go to the ocean any time I wanted.
I thought about moving someplace near the water. I could do that. But I’d probably have to get a car because places on the water don’t always have good public transportation. I was thinking mainly of Alki Beach. I’d love to live there. But there are no grocery stores or drug stores down there. I’d have to have a car and I haven’t had one in many years. It’s a little scary to think about. The only time I drive is when I visit my brother Kelly in Omaha. And then I drive a manual Jeep. I love to drive manuals.
Then it came to me. Virtual Reality. If I had Virtual Reality, I could go to the beach any time I wanted from the comfort of my loveseat. So off to Best Buy I went.
The first time I went to Best Buy looking for VR, it was so crowded I couldn’t get anyone to help me. I thought maybe the Universe was telling me I should live in the real world and not get sucked into a virtual beach vacation. I went home.
But it kept pestering my noodle so a couple of months later I went back.
This time it was better. I actually found a person to talk to. There is some debate as to whether he thought it was better. Here’s pretty much what happened…
Guy: Hi! How can I help you?
Karin: Hi! I’m thinking about VR.
Guy: We have several types of VR equipment. Each has different games and …
Karin: I want to go to the beach.
Guy: Sure, you can do that with any of them and a whole lot more.
Karin: I just want to go to the beach.
Guy: Okay, but…
<This went on for a while>
Karin: I JUST WANT TO GO TO THE BEACH ANY TIME I FEEL LIKE IT!
He finally realized that I was quite irrational and really did just want to go to the beach, any time I felt like it.
So, he hooked me up with an Oculus Go, 32 Gig storage capacity. That should be plenty to help me go to the beach. It cost about the price of a plane ride to San Diego. I figured I’d gotten a deal.
The First Evening
I unpacked my new toy and figured out how to use the damn thing. (Why can’t anything just be easy?) I spun that baby up and then started looking at the offerings. Oh, “Gala Relax” an app with lots of experiences. And yes, there’s a beach in there as well. Excellent. It’s a few dollars, let’s get that. I install it and start it up.
The first thing I notice is an experience in the Antarctica, on a ship that’s cutting through the ice. Click…
MOTHER OF GOD! WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO?
I grabbed the kitchen counter and held on.
I was floating above the ship. I could look in all directions and all there was, was the ship, the ice and space, lots of empty space. The ship was actually cutting through the ice. We were MOVING. It completely freaked me out. I was sure once I’m used to it, I’d find it relaxing.
It was in that moment that I understand what that Best Buy guy was trying to beat into my beach-addled noodle. This is SO much more.
I went through most of the experiences in Gala Relax that night, and I downloaded a free Jurassic Park experience with Blue that was a lot of fun. And I did the “Welcome to VR” experience. I was in that thing for over two hours, hanging onto the kitchen counter.
From there I had other experiences. I got to travel in a gondola in Venice, go up in a hot air balloon, fly with the Blue Angels, snorkel in a bunch of places, and watched as the Meg tried to break the glass to get at me. I had zombies surround my car, flew over waterfalls, saw some art installations at Burning Man, and went with this guy doing a solo climb, with no gear, up Devils Tower. I tried to go hand gliding but it made me sick. I went on several rollercoasters and tried out some horror experiences.
Mainly, all the things I did were passive. I went along for the ride. It was fun and cool.
And there were beaches. Lots of beaches. I got one app that was supposed to be a relaxing beach, but it sucked totally. They owe ME money for having wasted my time waiting for a wave to come in. But there are many beaches out there in VR Land.
And, yeah, they weren’t my focus so much anymore.
Eventually I got tired of my toy. I went in every-so-often, if I thought about it. But I’d already done a lot of the experiences. I went back to comedy and started taking classes at ComedySportz and Unexpected Productions.
I did go down to a VR lounge and hooked myself in and played some full-bodied games. What a rush. I went home and looked up the new Oculus Quest. It doesn’t need a computer like the Rift, but it’s still full-bodied. I looked at the price, and then at the price of the games, and decided that if I’m jonesing for that kind of experience, I can just pay $30 for an hour at the lounge. I’m good.
Then, the damn virus showed up. After a couple of weeks wandering the house in my jammies, wondering if it wasn’t a trick, if someone had made a mistake. I started looking around for something to do.
Hello, Oculus Go!
I went back in and revisited my favorites for a while before getting bored again. That was when I started looking at the games. Yeah…
Some of the games, especially the free ones, can be pretty lame. But then, I found “Smash Hit”.
“Smash Hit” is a fun shooting game. You blast jewels to get more ammunition, and you need the ammunition to blast obstacles out of the way. It’s fast paced, non-stop action. It’s a freaking blast!
I’ve only had it for a few weeks, but guess who has gotten so far that she is a “wizard” and now makes it past all the levels to the infinity level. That’s right, 56-year-old me. The woman who just wanted to go to the beach.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that by playing the game, my mood changes. For example, today I woke up generally irritated by Crackbook and everyone screaming and crying and shaming and blaming. It’s annoying and quite boring. My mind kept thinking up ways to bop these people on the side of their heads. Finally, I said “fuck it,” and played the game.
After the game I was completely cheered up. Playing the game and blowing everything up like that really relaxed something deep inside me. I went on my walk with a smile on my face and shake, rattle and roll in my step. It was satisfying.
It didn’t solve my nincompoop problem, but I felt better! And I hurt no one.
Now that I’m a “wizard” and can make it to infinity mode, I’m thinking it’s time for a new game. I’m thinking about “Thumper”.
I’m not really sure what it is, but it’s gotten some good reviews. According to IGN (whoever this is): “Filled me with existential dread and I absolutely loved it.” Sounds like fun. Maybe some other negative emotion can be released.
Wish me luck!