Nina at Mars Society Convention 2023, Arizona State University
Time is money. And when you’re multitasking, with several different jobs in different sectors, you’re possibly the biggest gambler with time (as well as with money).
In October I took a week off from my daily broadcasting job to go to the BFI Film Festival, which I’m given tickets to as a sponsor. The BFI is the highlight of my year and I usually attend it with my dear friends Raymond and Pascal.
But my schedule this year had to be massively re-orgnaised, as I was also giving talks at major institutions around the world. I had to ask several of these institutions to change the timings of my talks. One had to move it two hours earlier to 8am, which was quite an early start. And one of the oldest institutions in the UK moved my talk to two days later.
I believe in the universe having a plan – if it is meant to be, it will happen. I was extremely thankful that my proposals for talks were picked up, and for all of the flexibility the institutions offered.
But would I be able to manage my time? On the night of 4 October, I attended the gala premiere of the opening of the BFI Festival. The film ‘Saltburn’ was showing and the reception for sponsors started at 5pm. The opening was a bit sad, because none of the actors were on the red carpet – the actors’ strike was still going on. But the after-party was great and I was very happy that I managed to talk to the film’s writer, director and co-producer, Emerald Fennell.
We wrapped the party at 2am and I woke up at 6am. I completed my 10k run by 7.30am, then read a text from the airline that my flight to LA was delayed for an hour – I was already in trouble. My connection to Phoenix from LA was two and a half hours after landing. But, knowing LAX, I thought the plane would speed up in the air rather than land on time, as it is one of the busiest airports in the USA. Hold on girl – travel with carry-on language, you can do this!
Of course, after landing at LAX, the passport queue was extremely long and I was in it for almost an hour. I left the queue and approached airport security, asking a woman to help me. She was ice cold: her answer was no. Like I care! I quickly walked to the other side of the waiting area and approached another security officer. She looked at my connection ticket and escorted me to the immigration officer. Suddenly a queue of at least 25 people started walking behind me. When the security asked them who they were, they said they had been on the same flight as me. They also had connecting flights to catch!
Do I ever look around an aeroplane to see who else is in the same cabin – no! Do I leave some kind of impression so that people remember me – I don’t think so… hold on, what did I say or do on that flight?! But it was good karma that I not only saved myself but also others, with no effort. Why did none of them do what I did, though?
My Phoenix flight was on time and I was the last one to board the plane, I arrived in the city safe and well. It was already 2am London time when I arrived, so I slept for four hours and then began my final preparations for my talk the following day.
And as I’d expected, Bob Zubrin, founder and acting president of the Mars Society, liked my whole project, except the name. He said a panopticon is a prison, but Mars is not a prison! But I think it will be compared to the standards we expect on Earth. No freedom of movement, limited things to do, and, hold on, what will happen to capitalism? There will be no shopping malls, cinemas or concert halls built prior to the landing, and no one will be earning money for a while. On the bright side, I presented a formula on how to travel and live on Mars for free, so that Mars will not be a planet reserved for the super-rich plus a small number of scientists.
On the Saturday morning, I woke up at 3am to the breaking TV news of the horrible massacre of civilians in Israel. I walked back to the Mars Society convention at 8.30am and no one mentioned anything; there was no comment on the news, nothing.
I flew to LA the next morning, meeting my dear friends before flying back to London. This was the first time I was able to talk about my grief about what was going on in Israel, a country I love so much.
Did I manage my time on my return? Unfortunately not. My flight was on time, but the Heathrow Express had a signal failure, and I couldn’t get a taxi because it was rush hour. So I thought of going on the Elizabeth Line, but that packed train had a signal failure as well. Well, I missed the premiere at the BFI but I did go to the after-party!
Another example of my busy October: I flew to Ljubljana on the 11th. I visited my dear friend Tatjana on the eve of her big birthday, which I couldn’t attend due to my engagements. But I managed to toast her life and achievements.
The next morning I woke up at 5am and drove an hour and a half to Zreče, where I opened the conference with my talk on Ethics in Space Exploration and Space Junk. I finished the talk at 8.30am and the car was already waiting to drive me to Ljubljana Airport to catch my 11am flight to London. I was at home at 3pm, quickly changing to be at the BFI reception and gala premiere of the film ‘One Life’.
It was a very emotional film. As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors I felt that all the stories I was told at my grandmother’s table became so alive again. At the after-party, I sat down with a remarkable lady, and listening to her story I cried – this time I wasn’t alone. I left the after-party at midnight, and the next morning at 6.35am I was on the train to Liverpool, where I gave a late morning talk at the 90th anniversary of the British Interplanetary Society, followed by the afternoon panel where I was one of the speakers.
My dear friend once said to me, ‘Nina, let’s meet up on one of your flights, at least then I can see you and perhaps have a nice coffee with you.’ But she didn’t know that I always buy my ticket with unlimited access to the internet so I can work in peace.
Time always travels in one direction and, most importantly, time never stops, although the equation of where or when time started is yet to be revealed. Until then, we must manage it with the best possible outcome, and we all are prisoners, not on Mars yet, but on Earth. Thinking about Israeli hostages, all innocent civilians now trapped in the war.
Producer Ales Pavlin, director; producer, writer Emerald Fennell; director, producer, writer Nina Kojima