Beating Out the Story

The problem with being too comfortable, is it gets in the way of getting things done. No fire in my belly. Ambitions simmer on the back burner while procrastinations in the form of computer games, Facebook, and petty arguments with the Romanian Syndicate about the sorry state of the Roughriders are manifested.

I’m totally right about the Roughriders by the way. Chris Jones needs to be fired.

Grama hand-wrote pages and pages of stories from her childhood on the farm in Wood Mountain. I began the process of digging deeper into these stories, to see how I can craft them into a TV Pilot. I think I have some good ideas.

I’m scheduling a table read for this pilot, for the end of March. Nothing like a hard deadline to motivate me to git-er-done.

Unfortunately, I only have a vague clue as to what my story is. I’ve been staring at a blank beat-sheet – a line by line synopsis of each scene – and have jotted down some key moments in the A, B, C, and D plots. If I can figure out how to weave them together, I’m really going to have something special.

Something I Am Becoming

Who am I?

I seem to be transitioning into someone new. For the first time since moving to Toronto, and for the first time in many years before that, I am perfectly comfortable. Not happy. Not sad. Comfortable.

My career is going great. I took over the lease for the main floor of my house – which means that in theory, I can live in my home for free, if the loft and main-floor bedrooms rent out at near-full capacity on AirBnB.

No rent. No car payments. Low overhead. Few worries.

I would not trade this headspace for anything – although now I am passively looking for…

[Jarrett contemplates the next few words for several minutes]

…something.

I don’t know what that is. I don’t WANT to know exactly what that is. I’m not even sure what moving towards ‘something’ might involve. Some yoga perhaps? Reading? Running? Perhaps a routine of some sort?

Certainly writing.

I’ll have to give it all some more thought.

The Theatre of Human Connectedness

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It’s been some time since I last wrote in my blog. Feels like a lifetime ago.

I find myself now in a comfortable place of contemplation – the most comfortable I’ve been in years. It feels like a good time to say something about what I’ve been up to, because it may provide context for what may be coming next. That’s the theory anyway, I really haven’t thought it through that much, and I don’t plan to until I reach that point in this article.

Damn. This may be a long article.

In June, I got taken with the idea to live on a sailboat because buying a house or condo in Toronto seemed to be a ridiculous, money-crazy, idea. If I poured the money I’m paying in rent, into owning a sailboat, I could theoretically make it work.

And then I took a look around my apartment.

I love where I live. Love it! Twenty-five foot ceiling, tons of light, great backyard, and neighbours who feel like family. There is no way I could take any of this with me on a sailboat.

Then Paul (from the main floor) mentioned AirBnB. Maybe I could rent out my loft, and put the extra money towards a downpayment on a sailboat?

I spent the August long weekend learning to sail, and I got my Sail Canada Basic Sailing Certificate. I’m a B-Skipper now!

First thing I did when I got home, with my freshly minted new sailing certificate, was create an AirBnB listing for my loft.

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The second thing I did was take out a Fox 18 single-handed, proceed to fuck up everything I ever learned about sailing, fix all my fuck-ups in the middle of the Toronto Harbour, then sail some more. It wasn’t pretty, or poetic, but it was memorable.

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My listing on AirBnB was surprisingly popular. Within a few days, I only had a few days worth of vacancy left. There were a couple of brothers in from California who came for three days. A kid from Ottawa checking out options for university in the fall. A young French couple (from France). A Russian student living in Ottawa. Another French woman, Nadine, from Paris. She stayed a week, and we became very close friends.

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I very quickly came to realize that money was secondary to the whole AirBnB experience. It’s like I had the world in my living room for brief stints at a time. I couldn’t wait for Jazzy to experience all this internationalness with me.

Jazzy and Grama arrived together near the end of August. Our time together with Grama is a whole other blog article, so I’ll skip ahead to The Brits.

Tanya and Michael are a young couple from Leads, England. They lived with us for six weeks, and very quickly became family. We went sailing together, ate meals together, and got drunk together. Even Paul and Renee downstairs came to regard them as part of the house. I can’t even count how many times we sat around a bonfire together in the backyard, talking, sharing, and laughing.

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This might be a good time to mention the Toronto Cold Reads Writers’ Group. At about the same time I got my sailing certificate, I committed to hosting table reads every Saturday in my backyard around a bonfire.

Writers, actors, and other interested parties became a regular Saturday night thing at my house. Paul, Renee, and their baby Kieran became part of it. The Brits became a part of it. The whole cultural exchange just got to be like breathing – like my life became some kind of theatre of human connectedness.

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It didn’t even feel like a big deal – until I thought about it. And then I just shrugged it off.

Carolin, a German student, is now staying in the loft. She’s interning at the German school, and will be living with us until February.

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Her and Jazzy get along like sisters. At one point, they were watching a moving together on the couch while eating supper. Jazzy would pick out her mushrooms and put them on Carolin’s plate. Carolin would then eat the mushrooms.

The cultural cornucopia took a turn for the extreme a couple Saturdays ago. Nadine returned from Paris to stay with us for a week. Between her and Carolin, it was like half of Europe was represented in our living room. Jazzy was delighted. I was amused.

Nadine flies home in a couple hours. I’ll have to continue this article tomorrow.

Tale of Two Homes

IMG_0550I’m sitting at the bar of the 4 Seasons Sports Palace. In a few hours I catch a plane to go back home.

Home.

At some point a few months ago, I realized that Toronto became ‘home’ and Regina became the place where I’m from.

I sat in the stands for the final home opener ever at Taylor Field, and tried to drink up as much nostalgia as I could. Took some photos. Captured some memories for my mind’s eye. But I watched Saskatchewan play Toronto with a bittersweetness I never knew was possible.

Toronto was up 14-0 before ‘Oh Canada’ was done ringing off the stadium walls. And I didn’t even mind. Part of it has to do with me being an Argo Season Ticket Holder. Part of it has to do with the Riders’ current roster makeover – I think there are four starters back from last year – so not much of an emotional attachment.

With only six days in town, I had little time to see all the Regina sites, sounds and people I wished to see. Still, got a Rider game in. Walked around Wascana Lake. Went to St. George’s with the family. Saw all the church folk. Caught up with my Romanian crew. Caught up with some old friends. Drank in O’Hanlon’s, Bushwakers, and now 4 Seasons. I plan to do a lap through the University before meeting the family for pizza.

Regina.

I love this place. I miss my friends and family. I’m looking forward to going home.

Cabbage Rolls and Downtown Strolls

I’m back in the city that rhymes with fun!

I landed last night at 12:15am. Mom and Dave picked me up, and fed me cabbage rolls upon arriving at home. Pretty much a perfect welcome.

Today I’m sitting in the window of Atlantis. After this article I plan to spend a bit of time rewriting my TV Pilot, then it’s back to Mom’s for supper, then I’ll be off to Jason’s.

It’s the final Home Opener at Taylor Field. The next one will be at New Mosaic Stadium in 2017. Some of the fellas from the Romanian Syndicate are assembling for pre-game festivities prior to attending the game.

The day thus far has been kind of made up as I go along. A nice pace.

I wandered around City Square for a spell and took in some of the festivities related to the Home Opener. Familiar sights and sounds. Sentimental. My mind wanders.

No other definitive plans, and I like it that way.

Collaboration & Chores

IMG_0501.jpgI spent most of the past month finishing a new TV Pilot. I had a couple of table reads for it during the writing process, and so I believe it’s a very mature 1st draft. It’s currently circulating among colleagues, and I anxiously await their notes.

The latest table read was the most people I ever had in the house at one time. As you can see, we were cozy but not so packed that we couldn’t enjoy ourselves. I’m organizing another table read for someone else’s script later this month.

I would have had the script completed sooner, but I was too busy procrastinating. And also feeling guilty for procrastinating.

This week has been mostly enjoyable because I have nothing to feel guilty over. I’m going to give it another week before I set some new writing goals. In the meantime, I’ve been reacquainting myself with my camera and editing software.

I stayed up ’til 3am last night finishing a short film. I’m collaborating with an artist named Raphael, whom I met last week, and the fruits have been completely satisfying. It’s fun to start something, but it’s even better to finish. .

Speaking of which – a solid consequence of collaborating with new people, is that I get to add them to the eclectic mix weirdos, actors, writers, and other artists who orbit my friendspace. I wound up taking in a bonfire on the beach at Ward Island on Friday night. I was invited by Raphael and she introduced me to a number of her friends. Best thing about the occasion, is that 24 hours previous, I had no idea I’d be doing that.

Today has groceries and chores on the menu. I vacuumed and mopped the living room/kitchen yesterday. Took the opportunity to rearrange the furniture. I’m going to take a crack at my room next.

I guess chores are another consequence of finishing long term projects – I now have time for ’em.

Chooking the Cheese

Today is Orthodox Easter – or as I more fondly think of it – a return to eating up cooked bits of dead animals. Jazz and I celebrated by bbqing some steaks, and eating them at midnight. We didn’t have eggs, so we chooked with slices of cheese. A new tradition was born.

I didn’t do much yesterday. The sun was out. Looked like a beautiful day out the window, but I didn’t partake. No particular reason for that. Just needed to shut ‘er down.

Jazz spent the day downstairs with the dogs. Paul and Renee are away, so Jazz got their place to herself. I think the cat was jealous.

On Friday night I went to the Short Short Play Festival for the second time this week. The festival features twelve short plays, none longer than 20 minutes. A number of my friends are either performing in, directing, and/or producing the plays. I wanted to support their work. Also, my table is starring in one of the plays. I wanted to support my table’s debut.

I continue to enjoy my work on The Expanse. The people are great. The show is fantastic. The job is enjoyable. I left the production office on Friday afternoon, crossed the lot to Stage 12, and met with some of the crew about petty cash stuff. I was warmly received by all. It feels like I’m part of something special.

Jazzy and I finished watching Season I last night. I had previously taken her on a set tour, and so it was neat to see those same sets playing on our television. How many get that kind of intimacy on their TV?

Alright. That’s enough for now. Got some burgers to tend to.

Happy Easter!

Greek Haircuts & Meat

  I’m sitting in a salon on Queen Street East, waiting for a haircut. The salon is owned by an older Greek couple. They and their clientele wished Jazzy a happy 17th birthday. “God bless both of you!” they said in their thick accents.

They feel like the old people at church when I was growing up, who always talked to me. They talked to me like they’d known me all my life (cuz they actually had), and I didn’t even know their names. There’s something familiar about them, and I think it’s why I keep coming back.

Paul and Renee came home from the hospital with a baby yesterday. His name is Kieran. It’ll be fun to have a baby in the house. Jazzy and I bought them a gift certificate from Cineplex, so they could go on a date, and leave the kid with us. Exciting times!

They invited us down this afternoon to meet the baby. They also bought a cake for Jazzy – which I found incredibly thoughtful, given the big shiny new changes in their home.

Jazzy’s birthday has been…

FUCK!!!

I thought Orthodox Easter was April 24. It’s not. It’s May 1. May goddammed 1st! Jesus Christ, I dreamt about eating chicken last night. I haven’t eaten chicken, or any other meat and dairy since lent began approximately too long to remember ago.

Two more weeks. Alright. Here I go.

Jazzy’s birthday has been swell. We’ll be celebrating by doing stuff and not eating meat.

East Coast Easter Road Trip

IMG_0479.jpgI’m writing from our hotel room on the 14th floor of the Tryp Hotel in beautiful Quebec City. The view out our floor-to-ceiling window is breath-taking. It lead to one of my favourite moments of the trip – Jazzy and I laying on our bellies on the floor, our chins perched on the bottom of the window frame, looking out at the world and talking about the future.

The whole idea started in January, when Jazzy brought up the idea of checking out Saint Thomas University in Fredericton. I’m not keen on the idea of her moving away to go to school, but we have a year before we need to make any decisions. I told her that if a couple of things fall into place for me, we could afford a road trip.

Then I made the CBC sale. Then I landed the Expanse gig.

Jazz loaded up her stuff, and brought her friend Gwen along for the ride. We stayed with my buddy in Fredericton – a playwright named Ryan Griffith. We arrived on Good Friday, and he promptly took us to a gas station to buy groceries – we came home with a box of Kraft Dinner, and 10 beer.

We checked out the campus of STU the next morning. Turns out Ryan teaches there on occasion, so he had keys to the place. The girls got a tour beyond their expectations.

From there we drove around a bit, got a feel for the town, then parked near the river. We walked across the St John River on a retired railroad bridge, then grabbed a bite at a local pub. I had fish cakes for the first time in my life.

After lunch, we split up. The girls went exploring downtown, while Ryan and I camped out at another pub called The James Joyce. He worked on a new play, while I finished the first act of my new TV Pilot.

The plan was to leave Sunday morning, and swing through Moncton to catch a glimpse of the Ocean on our way home. Turns out PEI is only another half hour down the road, via Confederation Bridge.

It added three hours of driving to our day, but lunch in Charlottetown was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. The girls were blown away by the scenery and pure spontaneity of the drive.

I had Seafood Chowder, Jazz had Calamari, and Gwen ate the fish cakes.

We pulled into Quebec City at 10pm last night, tired from a long day of driving. Then we saw our room, and we were instantly charged with a powerful urge to explore the town.

The plan is to leave at around noon today, which will get us into Toronto, comfortably after rush hour traffic clears.

Montreal, Fredericton, Charlottetown, and Quebec City in 96 hours. This truly has been one of the best trips ever!

Alvin Ailey

ailey_ii_in_alvin_ailey_s_revelationsI took in a performance of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre at the Sony Centre yesterday. I had never heard of this group, but when my friend Suzanne asked me to go with her, I jumped at the chance.

I have always been interested in movement as a storytelling mechanism. My xmas script features one character who communicates primarily through movement.

I was truly inspired by what I saw.

Alvin Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th-century concert dance. I saw masses of humanity moving through space in ways that were both beautiful and elegant. The full spectrum of human physical expression was on display.

I have resolved that if I am ever able to put my xmas script into production, audiences will remember it for how it moves.

2016 Culture Tally;

Feature Scripts Read: 2
TV Scripts Read: 2
Movies Watched: 10
TV Seasons Watched: 9
Documentaries Watched: 6
Documentary Series Watched: 1
Audio Books: 1
Books Read: 1
Live Dance Performance: 2