Living Vicariously Through the Past

I’ve been spending a lot of time reliving old memories as I work with the Bucharest footage in the edit suite.  The fleeting moments of each memory have been captured in that footage, and as I work through it, frame by frame, over and over again, I can’t help but feel sentimental.  Bucharest is a special place for me, with a handful of special special people whom I’ve crossed paths with.  Of course Laura is there too.  Time has been frozen in that footage, and yet life has gone on for everyone, including me.

I’m not one who enjoys dwelling in the past.  I understand that every thing, every circumstance, every individual, is in constant motion.  It all moves forward and unfolds in unpredictable ways, and hanging onto the past will only lead to disappointments as the future unfolds.  Life is best lived when you ride along.  It’s like floating in a raft upon a rapidly moving mountain stream and the only thing you can do is nudge it gently towards one bend or the other.  You can’t stop, and you can’t go backwards.

Yet here I am, working in a bubble, in the edit suite, with the ghosts of all those moments trapped in the past.  I’ll permit myself the luxury of contradiction.  Life is full of those too.

All Coming Together

I spent my evening in the edit suite finishing the assembly cut of Urban Future.  There are a lot of black holes where video ought to be, but there is audio from beginning to end.  I’m pleased with how well it moves, and it works so well with the music.  Kate showed me some of her After Effects compositions and I am thrilled.

I started cutting video for one section of the teaser, the part where Laura and I are driving through the streets of Bucharest with Irene in her car.  So many good memories.  It was nice to just let it play in its raw form and go back in time.  Sometimes Bucharest doesn’t seem so far away.

Riders 33 – Tiger-Cats 23

It was a cold, windy, rainy day in Regina and a perfect opportunity to don my rain gear and walk from my place and across downtown to Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field.  This was my second Rider home game of the year and I attended it with Jeff (the butcher), Richard, Jason, and Benji.  We’re all part of what I call, ‘The Romanian Syndicate’.  Benji lives a block away from the stadium and the tradition is to meet at his place for food and drink prior to the game.  Jeff brought ribs from his store and bbq’d them.  It was a perfect pre-game meal.

Hamilton came into the game with a 4-2 record, second best in the league.  At 3-3 we were tied for first place in the west.  Despite winning 10 straight games against Hamilton, many were nervous about our prospects.  After coming off such a disappointing loss to the Lions last week, many questions arose.  Are we a young team on the rise, or a misguided team headed in the wrong direction?

Our biggest problem methinks has been the quarterback position.  We are committed to developing a young quarterback named Darian Durant.  We really don’t have a choice because there are no experienced, reliable veterans kicking around.  To this end, our team goes, as Durant goes.  We’ve won every game where he’s moved the ball well.  When the offense hasn’t moved the ball, the defense was forced to spend more time on the field, eventually wearing down and giving up big plays.

Wind and rain peppered the field and the Riders jumped to a 23-0 lead at half time.  Durant played very well, and I was impressed with his ability to move the ball against the wind.  We scored 10 of those 23 points into the wind.  What’s more, the defense held Hamilton to 0 first downs, and -11 yards on offense.  Coming in, the Tiger-Cats were supposed to be running rampant on us because our run defense was said to be sketchy, and their running back was said to be one of the best in the league.

Despite an impressive first half, everyone in the crowd was thinking about a blown 22 point lead against Edmonton earlier in the year.  Hamilton took the ball and the wind to start the third quarter.  They played with a short field the whole quarter scoring 1 TD and 3 FGs for 16 points.  We scored 13 points when we had the wind, so I wasn’t too concerned about Hamilton’s prowess on offense.

Despite what was said about the 3rd quarter, offense was not our problem.  We did move the ball in the third quarter, but we always had a long field.  Our kick return teams were disappointing and I question the kick return formations.  With 7 players up front, 2 returners in the back, and only 3 blockers in front of the returners, I think we were giving an advantage to the cover team.  The 7 players up front had no leverage on the player across the line from them, and Hamilton’s cover team was permitted to run down the field, largely unblocked.  However, the biggest disappointment for me was the punt cover team.  We kept losing field position every time we punted the ball, wind was a factor, but execution was a bigger factor.  Boreham needs to channel Bob Cameron when facing a stiff breeze.  The most glaring error was the blocked punt in the 4th quarter.  What the fuck boys?  How many times do we need to give up that play before we learn our lesson?

With the wind in the 4th quarter, we were back in business.  Now we had the short field to work with, and we used it to our advantage, running the ball down Hamilton’s throat, killing the clock, and scoring 10 points in the process.  It was a good win, and I don’t think it should be tarnished by the supposed 3rd quarter let down.  There was no let down.  We played well.  However, we won’t be a formidable team until we get our special teams on track.

A Typical Saturday

This evening I was hanging out in my friend’s living room and her ex saw my car parked in front of her house.  As he tried to break the door down, I sat there calmly on the couch thinking, ‘Great.  Here lies Jarrett.  Killed by jealous ex husband.’  Fortunately the deadbolt held and he couldn’t get in.  When he tried to come through the window I rose to my feet to prepare for whatever was about to happen.  I was aware that he made death threats against her in times passed.  She called the cops.  He left as soon as he saw the phone in her hand.

When the cops came by, they couldn’t get in because the deadbolt wouldn’t retract.  We couldn’t get out, they couldn’t come in.  She gave her statement to them through the window and they went looking for him.  In the meantime we spent an hour fumbling with the lock so we could get out.  There was no back door.  Eventually the neighbors lent us some tools and I disassembled the deadbolt.

I didn’t get home until 2:30am.  Just another quiet Saturday.

Paying for Simplicity

I think I’ve written in the past about the incredible freedom I have with my career.  I thoroughly enjoy my lifestyle.  I like to wake up around 7:30, fuck around for an hour at home, then head to Atlantis to read the newspaper and write.  I start ‘working’ at around 10, sometimes moving to the office, sometimes just staying where I am.  I try to keep my goals for each day simple… make it be primarily about one thing, and when I accomplish that goal, I feel really great about myself.  As I pursue the day’s goal, I leave lots of time for personal reflection, reading, and mindless drivel.  In this way, the day just kind of unfolds as it will.  I’ve been following this pattern for about 4 months now and I’ve never been in a better headspace.

The price of all this freedom is security.  I have no guaranteed income.  I just pursue projects, collaborate with people, and keep pitching.  Things usually have a way of working out, but never in a predictable pattern.  I do cash flow projections, plan ‘b’ scenarios, and a bit of nervous pacing, usually to no fruitful end.  Things never unfold as I project them, if they unfold at all.  The best I can do really, is to simply have faith that if I keep doing enough of the right things, good things will happen.  New opportunities are everywhere and I just need to be patient.

I’m sure I could work for someone else, have more security in my life.  But I know I would be unhappy, far more unhappy than the uncomfortable churning I get in my stomach when I worry about money.  Things are a bit lean right now, but I have money coming in.  I’ve already sent the invoices out and everything.  I’m just not sure when it will show up.

Today the worry started to become a bit more than I could handle.  There was no good reason for this worry.  Today was no different than any other day.  I figured I was simply ‘imbalanced’.  I needed to root myself.  I left the office at 2:30 and ran some errands.  Then I went home and cleaned my apartment for 2 hours.  I felt great afterwards.

Still do.  I love my life.

Driving in Regina

Transitioning from Vancouver driving to Regina driving has been a bit of a challenge.  I was quite pleased that I was able to navigate the busiest of Vancouver’s streets with relative ease.  You signal, the car behind you leaves a slight hole, and you take it.  If you don’t, the hole closes and you get hung out to dry until you grow some balls.  There’s give and take, but there ain’t no hand holding.

I’ve been honked at twice already by adopting these same practices in Regina.  I signaled to change lanes, and the girl behind me began to accelerate into the hole.  Unbelievable.  I was having none of it.  I shut the door on her, took the lane, and she honked at me.  Later, a courier van was stopped, about three car lengths short of an intersection with both flashers going.  As I pulled in front of him, I signaled to turn right (into the turning lane) and he began to move forward.  He started to honk at me because I had the audacity to continue with the flow of traffic and make my turn.  I had a full car length on him when I pulled in front.

I would describe myself as a patient, aggressive driver.  I give when someone wants a spot, and I take, when I need a spot.  Occasionally, you may need to take your foot off the accelerator to let me in, but you’re not going to have to go diving onto the sidewalk to avoid me.

I’ve been slowly getting up to speed in the office as well.  It’s a little weird being in a familiar place, eating food from my own fridge, and drinking beer from my usual establishments.  I had supper with Cris last night, and I had difficulty adjusting to the reality that she is only a phone call away whenever I want to speak to her, or see her.  I’ve spent the last month crossing paths with perfect strangers, old friends, and foreign friends with the expectation in my mind that it would be some time before I’d see them again, if ever.

I feel like I’m learning how to live like a local again.

La Multi Ani Dad!

“Motion sickness… it’s the price of rootlessness.  The only cure?  To keep moving.”

I was supposed to be preparing for a departure to Cuba tomorrow, but I couldn’t be happier to say that the trip is delayed.  I used to think there was something to the above quote (from ‘Angels in America’), but not anymore.  I am happy to be slipping back into my routines, seeing my friends, and the familiar places around me.  Everything must have balance to have context.  Too much travel, is too much travel.  Too much familiarity, is too much familiarity.  Still, it’s important to keep moving forward, regardless of our surroundings.

At 5:30, Jazzy and I drove out to Strasbourg to celebrate dad’s 68th birthday.  We came up with this plan to surprise both dad and Kathy because they didn’t know Jazzy made the trip home with me.  She hid in the car for about five minutes and then jumped out and surprised them.  The look on Kathy’s face was priceless.  It was a great night.


Rolled into Regina at about 3pm.  It’s good to be home.

I had nothing but time on my mind as the miles went by.  My thoughts turned to Vancouver… and Bucharest… and the memories of all the people who have crossed my path in the last few weeks… and of those who have been in my life for significantly longer than that.  Where is my place in all of it?

Not Vancouver methinks.  I think Vancouver is a beautiful city with lots to do.  PJ and Jazzy are there.  Lots of other friends are there.  Still… I don’t think I would ever be comfortable calling Vancouver home.  I don’t understand why… perhaps I’d feel like I’d be cheating on Regina.  I don’t know… maybe it’s just not my kind of place.  I think I’m more of a Toronto type of guy.  I don’t understand that last statement either.

Bucharest is my home away from home.  I’ve left a piece of myself there.  I intent to keep it that way.

Regina is… home.  I really like this city.  Like Bucharest, I feel like something big is going on right now.  The city is changing, shedding a stagnant past for a bright future.  We’re building a dome, we’re redoing our downtown, we’re leading the continent in economic growth, we have Wascana Park.  My family is here.  My friends are here.  My beloved Roughriders are here.  There is no shortage of beautiful woman.  Everything I enjoy about the other cities I’ve visited, I can do here… just differently.

This is the city that made me who I am.

Riders 20 – Lions 35

I watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders play the BC Lions in BC Place.  Tickets cost me $90.  The Riders came in with a 3-2 record and tied for 1st place in the west.  The Lions, for reasons unexplained, came in with a 1-4 record, last in the west.  The Riders have a history of playing well in BC Place.  BC, despite its record, remains a dangerous team, I just figured the Riders were more dangerous(ier).

We sat in section 410, upper deck and were surrounded by Roughrider fans.  To my right was Sandra, my date for the evening, and a Cuban beauty who was watching her first CFL Football game ever.  Interestingly, the Roughriders are named after Teddy Roosevelt’s Cavalry ‘Roughriders’ who fought the Spanish in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century.  To my left, two Americans, a husband and wife from Indiana who were also watching their first CFL game, live.  The husband had seen it before on television and quite liked it.  I explained some of the rule differences and pointed out some of the things to watch for.

They thoroughly enjoyed the punt returns, especially the fumbled punt return.  In the US that would have been a fair catch.  They loved the speed of the game, the unlimited motion, and the athleticism.  They were familiar with some of the names on the field from their college careers.  I asked them if they remembered Michael Bishop, who played for us last year.  The husband said he knew Bishop very well — sat in the stands and watched Bishop lose his final college game to Purdue (the husband’s alma matter).  We also had some great conversations about health care, Obama, and legal drinking ages along the border.  Despite the outcome of the game, they emerged as Saskatchewan Roughrider fans… ‘Canada’s Team’.  They also said they preferred the CFL game to the NFL game, because the NFL was ‘too damned slow’.  I only wish the game could have been a real barnburner, as in past Lions/Riders clashes.

As for Sandra, she had a hard time understanding what was going on.  It wasn’t until after the game, when we were having a drink at a bar on Robson Street that she commented that at least she now understood what was going on in the highlights on TV.  It might have been better for her to watch her first game on TV rather than from the stands.  Better picture, analysis, and instant replay.  Again, it probably would have helped if the game was less of a stinker.

And now, for my thoughts on the Roughriders so far this year.  The game was a perfect example of how the whole CFL season is going.  Left is right, upside down is sideways, and nothing makes any sense.  The Riders are 3-3, tied for first in the west (as of this moment), and could easily be 5-1.  They also could easily be 2-4.  Inconsistent quarterbacking, running, blocking, special teams, defense, and play calling have me scratching my head.  Are we a team on the rise, with a young QB who just needs time?  Or are we on a downward spiral, and fortunately everyone else in the league, except Montreal is in the same boat?  After six games, nobody seems to know what kind of team we have.

One thing is certain.  We are a dangerous team, both to the opposition, and to ourselves.

Three Ways

I started my day shooting near Beach Ave, then scooted across town for a meeting with Kan Chew and Sandra, to talk about the Cuba documentary series.  Kan is an importer/exporter who does a lot of business in China and Cuba.  He’s got his fingers in a lot of pies, and he’s had a really colourful history, from press photographer, to agency executive, to husband, to father, to now, TV Producer.  My meeting with Kan reminded me of the wilderness camping trips I used to take as a kid.

I used to go on these wilderness survival camps in the Cypress Hills.  Everything you needed, you carried on your back, including food, water, cloths, and shelter.  No adults were around to accompany us in the bush, just us… a bunch of 15 year old kids.  One of the highlights of the day for me was suppertime when it came time to trade items from my supper rations for items from other kids’ supper rations that were more desirable.  I once traded two cheese and cracker snacks to Trampas Brown for three cans of beans.  Beans were the most sought after commodity, but Trampus hated beans.  Everyone was mad at him because Trampus didn’t seem to understand than even if you don’t want something, somebody else would place a premium on it.  I got to the point where I was swinging three way, and even four way trades to get the food items I wanted between different groups of kids.

So back to Kan.  He explained to me that he needed 10,000 units of electronic devices and his supplier in China dried up.  I happened to know a business man in Bucharest who knows a business man in London who manufactures these gadgets.  I put Kan in touch with my contacts.  I guess we’ll see if a deal can be made.

Sometimes being in the right place at the right time is more valuable than knowing what the hell you’re doing.