Thinking Across from Jazzy’s Dorm Window

52911077378__67FC72BC-1440-446D-B92A-B87386AEC373My plan for this time of year, was to be back in Saskatchewan, perhaps waking up next to someone I just met at Shyanne’s wedding – and we’d probably both still be in our suits, on the floor, under a table, in the reception hall.

Instead, I was hired onto another movie – a tier E Christmas movie. I’m the 1st Assistant – so upgraded credit from the previous show. You never want to turn work down, when the work comes calling.

While the show is a welcome development, my October plans took a tumble – though not necessarily for the worse.

I now find myself in Halifax, sitting in a different hall – the mess hall – of Jazzy’s dorm. I’m actually sitting down, and across from her dorm

While it didn’t make sense to spend $800 flying to Saskatchewan for Shyanne’s wedding, only to return back to Toronto 12 hours later – it made infinite sense to drive for 32 hours (return) to see Jazzy on Thanksgiving weekend.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I like long drives. Nothin’ to do but sit and think. And I got a lot to think about. Nothing particularly pressing. Just a lot to think about.

I don’t even know what shape the complete thunk-out thoughts of all this thinking is supposed to look like. The point is not to have an end goal for that shape.

It is simply enough to think.

The day has no plan. At some point I’ll take Jazzy out to buy warm blankets. There will also be food in our future. I also stocked her up with booze – specifically 24 beer, and a bottle of rum. Rum mixes with everything.

Oh shit!

Six decks of cards. I’m going to buy her six decks of cards so she can teach her friends how to play Canasta. Seems like a holiday thing to do.

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Jazzy looking out her dorm window – after I sent her a text to look outside her dorm window.

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Driving Off into Adulthood

IMG_1918Jazz and I had just taken the exit to Hwy 85 at Riviere du Loop in Quebec, and were passing a garbage truck, when I put The Reverend Horton Heat’s ‘Five-O Ford’ on the radio. Jazzy was freaking out a little bit, and I couldn’t have been more proud.

She was behind the wheel, and that garbage truck was the first vehicle she ever passed – EVER! And it was on a highway at 120 km/h.

I was super keen to get her behind the wheel – even if it was just slightly before she was ready for it. I’ve been teaching her to drive when I can, but lessons have been limited to learning how to shift with a manual transmission. We’ve done a bit of driving around the neighbourhood, but avoided the main streets.

I just didn’t have enough time to teach her everything she needed to know.

Not enough time.

When did that happen?

I remember vividly, the road trip I took with her, at seven years old, to leave her with PJ in Vancouver. Bittersweet layered with bittersweetness. No longer would I get to be an everyday part of Jazzy’s life. From then on, it was holidays – and bittersweetness would be a signature part of my Jazzy/Daddy experience ever after.

When I got her back for high school, she was a different person. She wasn’t 7 year-old Jazzy anymore. She was some new girl, whom I had to reacquaint myself with.

I smiled from the passenger seat at her, while she completed that pass – half shitting herself. Ten years ago, she was in that same car, in the back seat reading her books. Now she was behind the wheel, driving off into adulthood.

No way in hell I was going to miss this trip to Halifax. Ten years ago, I left her on the West coast. Now it’s Atlantic Ocean air that will blow in through her dorm room window every morning.

She may not be quite ready for the streets behind the wheel of any car, but she’s damned ready for this next chapter in her life.

Me and bittersweetness left her on campus at Dalhousie an hour ago. We’re now having a drink together in a Pub on the harbour.

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Tuesday Night on the Board

IMG_1543.jpgMy life is pretty amazing, when I really step back and take a look at it.

Last night Jamie came over to participate in a project for the Toronto Cold Reads Series. Afterwards, he just kind of lingered. We drank beer and shot the shit. It seemed like he had something on his mind.

And then he began talking about a script he’s been working on for some time. He brought an early draft to the writers group a year ago, and he’s been pecking away at it ever since. And he’s stuck.

So there we were, talking about his script, staring the whole time at the big, blank, cork board I have in my writing studio. I suggested we break the story together. He hesitated. Then he went upstairs, grabbed another beer, came back down and said, “Fuck it. Let’s do it.”

He pulled out his own stack of 3×5 cards, and started writing key scenes down on these cards. We began pinning them to the board, when Sean and Maeve – my AirBnB guests from England – came home. I invited them to join us – and so they did.

We brainstormed ideas for the inciting incident, act breaks, turns, and climaxes for his 5 storylines. Jamie had most of the answers already, but there were some gaps to contemplate.

Two hours later, we had the majority of Jamie’s screenplay up on the board – 33 key scenes in all. He kept talking about how complicated his story is, but when it’s up on a board like that, broken down to 5 storylines – each with 6 key scenes – it’s pretty simple.

We could have sat on the couch and watched a movie together, but instead, we helped to write a movie together.

The Glowing After Glow of Yesterday’s Today

Mom74 4VaciliPanaonPrince@WoodMountainToday was the best!

I organized a table read for my new TV Pilot last night. I had only finished the latest draft approximately 54 minutes before we read it!

Even so, it went over incredibly well. Marcia hugged me after the read. Jamie kissed me, and then he told me it was the greatest script I ever wrote. Lara had tears in her eyes. Everyone in the room was blown away.

What made it even more special, was that I read the part of my great grandfather, Vasile Pana, and Jazzy read the part of her great grandmother, Eugenia. I remember distinctly, holding eye contact with her – both of us beaming – as the room applauded.

The script was inspired by a bit of family history, combined with political events that took place in Saskatchewan in 1927 around Moose Jaw.

This morning I made breakfast for my AirBnB guests (both from Brazil, and neither speaks English), and spent the rest of the day relaxing, guilt-free. Jazzy and I watched a documentary together, and in an hour, I’ll be at Toronto Cold Reads, working with our Musical Guest.

I currently am writing from an Irish Pub on The Danforth and there’s a collection of hobo musicians who’ve shown up, taken a seat, and joined in on some Irish folk melodies.

A really great day.

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.