New Year’s Eve

What am I going to do tonight?  I have to do something, but I don’t really know what.  I don’t have any plans…

[Jarrett makes a phone call]

I just invited myself over to Shawn’s.  Maybe we can play cards and pretend we’re grown-ups or something.  Either way, spending New’s Year’s Eve with lang syne friends is a pretty good way to mark the passage of time.

Last year at this time I was having supper with Laura in Bucharest.  That was probably the best New Year’s ever.  We hit two clubs, met up with friends, and danced ‘till 4am.  The echos of fireworks exploding, bounced off the walls of every building.  In three hours it will be 2010 over there.

This year’s event will be quieter methinks and that suits me just fine.  I’m not really in a mood for partying.  I’m not in the mood for much of anything really.  I put Jazzy on a plane a couple of hours ago, and I just finished catching up with Chantel.  The whole rest of the day is a big question mark to me.  I’m not even in a mood for reflecting.  However, if a nice distraction came along, I wouldn’t complain.

I am a malleable lump of lethargic potential.  Perhaps curling up with a book for a few hours would fit the bill.  I’ll let you know.

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Hurricane Ali

Ali is a hurricane force of will.  I first met her about 8 years ago when she was an actress in a TV commercial I was producing.  She made a strong impression on me.

Then time moved on and about three years later she showed up once again in my office looking to tape an audition of herself for a feature film.  We went out for coffee afterwards and wound up rehearsing a scene together for another upcoming audition.  We exchanged phone numbers and went our separate ways.

About a year and a half ago I was purging old contacts from my cell phone.  Ali lives in Vancouver and I hadn’t talked to her since that one night.  Six hours after deleting her, the phone rang.  It was Ali.  Since then we’ve been good friends and colleagues.

Yesterday I picked her up from her parents house and we went for breakfast at K’s Family Kitchen.  Ali and I did a lot of breakfasting there last winter when she was in town developing a documentary series idea with me.  We were keen to continue the tradition.

Between bites, Ali fretted about ‘wasting her 20’s’ and vowed to pack as much into her 29th year as possible.  I was kind of shocked to hear that because Ali has more projects on the go than she has hours in the day.  She has an epic work ethic and an iron force of will.  She’s travelled around the world and she’s schmoozed every VIP in our industry.  I really believe good things will come to her if she would just learn patience, and maybe catch a lucky break.

About 5 hours later I found myself pointing my car in Moose Jaw’s direction on the highway.  Ali was in the back seat next to Jazzy and her sister, Heidi, was sitting next to me.  Heidi is a journalist who’s been published in McLean’s Magazine and the National Post among others.

Like Ali before her, Heidi was fretting about wasting her 30’s.  She’s spending this year taking a shot at free lancing glory, hoping to pack the final year of her 3rd decade with enough powder to make a loud ‘BANG’ when 40 hits.

I started laughing.  I imagined myself having a conversation with Jazzy when she turned 10.  “I really feel like I wasted my 1’s Dad.  I could have been more child like and care free instead of sitting on your lap when I was five, mastering sarcasm.”

I dropped the girls off at the Spa while Jazzy and I had supper at Grama’s.  After a game of crib I left Jazzy behind to spend the night and met the girl’s at Houston Pizza.

Afterwards Heidi and I wound up at La Bodega talking until 2:30am.  She has me seriously thinking about getting myself published in magazines (in addition to everything else I’m doing).  She’s going to show me the ropes and who knows… maybe you’ll find me on a news stand someday.

Distracting the Obvious

While Christmas at mom’s was a story of Canastic proportions, Christmas at dad’s was a righteous shuffle boarding shufflefest.  Jazz and I played about 37 games in dad’s basement.  We’re both crack shuffle boarders now.

Christmas at dad’s was also the second leg of a long stretch of doing nothing.  I have to say, that while nothing is one of my favourite things to do, it’s nothing to write home about.  I felt like I wanted to do something, but I couldn’t think of anything in particular.  I just didn’t have the energy for it.  What a state of mind!

I spent the night in Strasbourg and left Jazzy there when I hit the highway at about 6pm yesterday.  From the car I phoned Nicole and we met at La Bodega for drinks.  It seems that doing nothing while drinking and talking with a friend was exactly what I needed.  We both had a load on our minds.  While I had already made a decision about what to do with my troubled thoughts, she was still at a loss with her own.  At this point I pulled out my notepad and together we weighed the pros and cons of her situation.  After two pints she was drunk, thoroughly analyzed, exceeded her daily quota for laughter, and still completely confused.

At best, it seems we provided a great distraction for each other.  I guess that’s what friends are for.

Canasta Warrior

I played Canasta all day long.  Men against the women.  I played so much Canasta my fingers are calloused from shuffling cards.  My dreams were filled with dreams about cards stacking and aligning themselves according to their value.  There’ll probably be one more game today before I move on to Dad and Kathy’s for yet more Christmas cheer.

The trick to playing Canasta is to tell your partner what you have in your hand so he will know how to play the current round.  This tactic is a violation of the rules, but only if you say it in a NOT helpful fashion.  For example, if you want your partner to play an 8 of Spades, you might say, “If you have an 8 of Spades you might want to hold onto it in case I have the 9”.  However, it would be considered cheating if you say, “Don’t play the 8 of Spades there, because I’m going to play the 9 here.”  See the difference?

The other trick to playing Canasta is to be mindful of when to tell a fellow player to hurry up.  You generally never tell a player on your team to hurry up because you don’t want your teammate to make a mistake.  Instead, you bombard him with ‘helpful advice’.  However, when someone on your opponent’s team is slowing things down, that’s an opportune time to express your indignation and offense at not knowing ahead of time, what cards she should be playing.  This is doubly so, if the opponent happens to be your mother.

Looking at another player’s cards is a violation of the rules, except when the other player is holding them in such a way that you can see them, or except for when you wish to ‘help’ her.  ‘Helping’ your opponent by looking at her cards is not frowned upon.  You’re also allowed to play your cards out of turn in case you ‘forgot’ to play them during your own turn.  This is especially ‘helpful’ to your teammates as he makes decisions about his own turn.  After all, it would be a shame if he forgot to make a play because you forgot to play something earlier.

The final game of Canasta ended in an epic 3 on 3 battle for all the marbles.  At one point Dave, Papa and I were down by 3,000 points.  The cards were smoking.  My fingers were cramped.  My eyelids, heavy.  It was 11pm.  And then all at once, I drew the two cards I needed to go out.  In the final talley we won by less than 1,000 points.

Christmas Day

It’s Christmas morning in Regina.  I’m sitting at the kitchen table in Mom’s house.  Grama, Papa, Dave, and Glen (a family friend) are all sitting around drinking coffee and discussing the intricacies of purchasing a new toilet.  Hmmm… “American Standard or Crane?”

No one is in any great hurry to start anything new.  I slept over last night and I’m still wearing the same cloths from yesterday.  The tradition in our family is to open our presents on the night of Christmas Eve.  I was most excited about giving the gifts I got for Mom & Dave, and Grama & Papa.  As for my haul, the best present so far came from PJ.  She gave me a number of books; ‘Ethics’ by Aristotle, ‘Six Memos for The Next Millennium’ by Italo Calvino, ‘To Perpetual Peace’ by Immanuel Kant, ‘Socrates’ Secret’ by Jim Turrell, and ‘The Horse’s Mouth’ by Joyce Cary.

[about an hour passes]

Shortly after writing that last paragraph, a game of cribbage broke out.  Grama and I took on Papa and Glen.  We each won one game.  Afterwards I SKYPEd Laura to wish her a Merry Christmas.  It was 7pm in Bucharest.  She was in full blown ‘doing nothing’ mode.  She was watching movies with her mom, and was about to venture into the kitchen in search of her mother’s sarmale (cabbage rolls).  I’ve feasted on her mom’s sarmale.  They’re always worth the trip.

Once my brother Jeremy and his girl friend Amber arrived, brunch started.  I ate homemade sausage and boiled wheat.  There’s probably going to be more card games later.  Other than that, I have no plans for the day.  It’s a good day for doing nothing.  Not only is it -27 outside, but it seems to me that doing nothing all day with family around is the best way to spend Christmas.

I’m not even planning to change my clothes.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Crossroads

I’m sitting on the couch in Atlantis with Jazz.  She’s drinking hot chocolate and I’m having the usual dark roast and an apple bran muffin.  I still don’t know where bran comes from.  The city is buried in snow and driving is a bit of a challenge, but it’s nothing us Regina folk can’t handle.  Life goes on, on this Christmas eve.

I have Courtney on my mind.  I don’t like being this vulnerable to anyone.  I’m used to my walls, and I feel naked without my armor.  I feel the highs and lows of our friendship profoundly.  I’m not sure if this is what it means to drink fully from life’s cup, or if I’m just a fool who’s blowing in the wind.  Every bone in my body tells me I’m imbalanced.  I feel powerless and I’m torn between retreating from it, and pursuing it further.

I have been getting on with the rest of my life.  My career is going better than ever.  I went to a movie with Cris and Jazzy on Monday.  I hung out with Nicole on Tuesday.  I spent Saturday with my students and I’m spending every other spare moment with Jazzy and family.  The farm was great and I also found time to check in with myself.

Court is somewhere away from me dealing with the wreckage of her past.  I have to think that the imbalance and powerlessness I feel can only pale in comparison to her own.  I have hitched my wagon to this beautiful troubled woman.  She never asked me to do that.  She’s made no promises to me.  She hasn’t told me to leave either.  I struggle greatly to not take a self centred view of the big picture.  I struggle to rationalize the wisdom of my thinking.

When should self preservation trump winning the heart of a beautiful soul?  If I stay on this path and lose, I’ll be a flaming pathetic wreckage.  If I win, I’ll be the happiest, luckiest most richly blessed man in the world.

GatorDaze

I felt an emergency need to create a lasting memory with Jazz yesterday afternoon.  She really misses PJ and was feeling kind of down.  We’ve been going to movies and hanging out with family, but I felt like we needed to do something even just a little bit more special.

Three hours later I found myself behind the wheel of a Gator pulling Jazz and her two best friends on a sled through the snow on my family’s farm, about 90 minutes out of Regina.  Pretty soon Jazzy, Faith, & Kayla were all taking turns behind the wheel.  We spent a couple of hours outside, laughing and playing hard.  Jazz said it was the most fun she’s had this entire trip.  Shyanne took pictures, and I’ll post them soon.

The really cool thing is that I just showed up at the farm with three kids, and didn’t even bother calling ahead.  The door’s always open and it’s always been a really special place for me.  When an emergency memory is called for, there’s no better place to be.

We spent the night, and now we might be here a while longer than we planned.  A foot of snow fell last night and it’s still snowing.  The highway is closed from Belle Plaine to Regina.  I guess I’ll be firing up the Gator again and take advantage of the delay.

Idea

I spent Saturday with some of the students from the Media Arts class I teach at O’Neill.  We split into two teams of three and set out to write, shoot, edit and complete two short videos.  I teamed up with Nic & Shayla.

We spent more time sitting around drinking coffee than we did shooting anything, but it was a perfectly chilled out, fun, and richly creative vibe.  We wound up making a Romanian infomercial about an idea that lives inside the University.  It’s really well done methinks.  I’m proud of the video and I can’t wait to send it off to Bucharest for thoughts from the other side of the pond.

Overall, it was a really great day.  Liam, Cody, Nic, Dean, Shayla and myself really got to know each other a little better.  Dean and Liam had to leave early, but we finished things off over pizza, and it wasn’t until after 11pm that Cody finally finished up.  I was really into the vibe.  Everyone else in the class can go eat a bowl full of dicks for not showing up.

Runaway Train

My world was dealt a serious blow on Friday night.  Jazzy has a training bra.  Two of them actually.  My beautiful little girl ain’t so little no more.

It’s too soon.  No one asked me if it would be okay for Jazzy to start sprouting boobies.  No one cleared the schedule with me.  I’m not done with her yet.  I only get so much time with her in the nest and I have plans for her.  We have all these little girl things to do together.  Panic is setting in.

Soon it will be onto the next thing.  Boys.  Boys come after boobies.  That’s the way it works.  I know, cuz I’m a boy.  Boys will come after her, and they’ll want to get their hands on her, and the next thing you know, she’ll be loading up on baggage and high school angst and car payments and teenaged girl drama stuff.  And I’ll have no choice but to sit back and helplessly watch it all unfold like some kind of toilet paper memory stuck to a runaway train shoe in a bad boo-B movie.

With Jazz being so far away so much of the time, I really do feel helpless.  I want to be a bigger part of her life, but I still need to take care of the things that pay for my life in Regina.  And now the clock is ticking.  I feel like I need to hurry up and get all the memories in while I still have a chance.  I know there will never be enough time and I know I can’t hang onto the past, or I’ll miss out on even more memories.

Life just moves too fast sometimes.  There’s not enough room to fit it all in.  I’m in a big damned hurry to live inside each single individual precious moment with her, to let the hands fly off the clock, to let the laughter churn, and to be and be with her in loving memories.

Back From the Aether

It’s been a few days since I wrote anything in the blog.  My mind was on a desperate philosophical journey.  I handed in an essay on Feminist Epistemology and I wrote my philosophy final exam.  Other than that, I’ve done very little other work.  I don’t mind though, it’s kind of neat to bath so deeply in a philosophical soup.  I suspect I shall remain under the influence for some time.  I may even take it upon myself to learn more about some of the greats.  It’s amazing how much these old dead guys pop up in pop culture, and most people don’t even realize it.

Jazzy has been great, even though she’s been largely ignored due to my philosophical outlook for the week.  Still, I have managed to include her in my activities.  On Wednesday, we spent the entire day together with Courtney at the office.  Court and I were philosophizing and Jazz was computer jigging it in the edit suite.  We nibbled on Chinese food all day and didn’t leave until 1:30am.  Jazz is still living on Vancouver time, and so my nocturnal little girl wasn’t even tired, though she slept a ton yesterday.  I offered to take her to her friend’s place, or anywhere else she wanted to go, but she was just happy as hap, sitting in the edit suite, watching youtube and playing her games.

Jazz also really likes Courtney.  At one point Jazz was on SKYPE with her friend Patience in Vancouver and she grabbed Courtney and brought her into the edit suite, just so she could show Court off.  The three of us are talking about putting a tree up before Christmas, but logistics may have something to say about that.  It’s always tricky trying to share Jazzy with everyone who wants to see her.

Last year Jazzy and I came up with an idea where she would plot her schedule on a calendar and then take it upon herself to ‘book’ herself with various friends and family.  I remember Ryan called me, wanting her to spend time with his girls.  I gave him Jazzy’s cell number.  She told him that she already had a date with her auntie booked, but she’d see if she could push it four hours and call him back.  Sure enough, all on her own, nine year old Jazzy worked her schedule like a pro and managed to get Ryan and her Aunt in on the same day.

Jazzy’s also taken to house cleaning.  I think she might be broken.  I told her to read the ‘how to be a 10 year old’ manual.  All on her own, without asking, she started tidying the living room.  She even asked for a Swiffer so she could dust.  She’s not really into dishes or bathrooms, but fortunately, those things are (mostly) under control to begin with.  I have to pay her with footrubs for all her work.  I don’t mind though, she’s my beautiful little girl (who now fits into her mom’s cloths).