Dunigan

I walked into Atlantis this morning, and just like every other morning, ordered a medium dark roast and a blueberry muffin.  Unlike every other morning, I forgot my wallet.

“No problem,” said the guy behind the counter, “We got this one.”  Small thing, but it still put a little skip in my step, and now I’m writing about it.

“Go out and make a difference today.”  That’s how Matt Dunigan would send his kids off to school.  Read it last night in his autobiography.  Dunigan was my all time favourite Quarterback in the CFL.  I watched him play… like a linebacker, and he’s got the concussions to prove it.  In 1988 I sat in the stands for the Roughriders’ first playoff game since 1976.  It was bitter cold.  We were supposed to roll over a BC Lions team that was thought to be soft because they’re from Vancouver and the weather is nice… and also because they’re from Vancouver.

Dunigan had us off balance all game long.  He ran these play action bootlegs with the guile of a magician.  He’d hide that ball, pull it out, throw it deep, run if he choose to, and most significantly, play the game with a passion and fire so palpable, you couldn’t help but be caught up in it.  I’ve seen great Quarterbacks play over the years, but none could touch Dunigan’s force of will over a football game.

In 1996 he played his final game in Hamilton against BC.  He was in the midst of a great season, playing the game for love (cuz the Ti-Cats that year weren’t writing him any cheques).  BC blitzed their halfback from the hammer position and blindsided Dunigan so hard the ball came loose.  Dunigan’s head bounced off the turf, and the world went sideways.  He should have stayed down, but he didn’t.

Instead he ran after the ball and took another hard hit.  Walking towards the sidelines with the trainers at his side, he knew he was done.  He knew his career was over.  For the first time ever, he felt a crack in his armour.  Still, Dunigan was not one to sit on the sidelines.  He told no one about his concussion and went in for the next offensive series.

Two plays later Dunigan took a shot to the head, ear hole to ear hole, and never saw the football field again.  Pieces are still missing from his memory.

I’ve been spending time channelling Dunigan lately.  I’m basing a character in ‘Highwaymen’ on him.  I’m going to be writing about the final moments of his career.  I want the audience to fall in love with this guy, and I want them to get their hearts broken when he falls.

Ultimately this series will be about the ‘self’.  Who are we and what makes us that way?  I’ve been reading Descartes, I’ve been reading Locke, I’ve been reading Hume, and I’ve been reading Dunigan to find those answers.

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The Gift

Grama has been planning her birthday party this year, ever since her last birthday came and went.  She’ll be 85 on Wednesday, and she’s still a keg of dynamite.  Walks everywhere, does everything for herself, makes plans, and lives her life.

She married Lee a few years ago.  They really bring the best out of each other.  At 92 he doesn’t move as well as her, but his mind is still razor sharp.

They talk about death like how everyone else talks about the weather.  They know they have more days behind them than they have ahead of them, and they’re ok with that.  Mom gets freaked out when they talk like that, but I admire it.  Really, we’re all just one misplaced step away from death’s door.  Tomorrow is promised to no one.

Without being dramatic about it, they really do see every day as a gift and they live their lives that way.

Meandering Being of Will

Cloudy day.  Kinda grey.

Swapped texts with a beautiful person this morning.  Saskatchewan routed the BC Lions last night, 37 – 13.  Hanging out and eating brats with the Romanian Syndicate was also great.  Lins, her brother and her brother’s two friends also tagged along.  It was a good night.

I have logistics on the brain today.  There are family functions all weekend and I have to move Jazz around.  I have office stuff that may or may not need to get done today.  I also have supper plans later that, while down on the food chain, remain something I want to do.

I feel an overwhelming desire to put my nose down and just float along, but I can’t do that.  I look back on the last three years of my life and I feel like my greatest accomplishment has been finding a sense of self awareness.  I’ve been taking charge of my place amidst all the noise.  I’ve noticed things beginning to happen for me.  And so, floating along, blissfully ignorant of what’s going on around me isn’t something I want to do.

Still, I feel like I lived most my life that way, just floating along.  The boys and I got talking last night.  Rich is getting married in October and most of us have been a part of each others’ weddings over the past 14 years.  As old stories of old events got told, I couldn’t help but think deep down how distant that past feels.  It’s like I wasn’t even a participant, even though I was there.

I thought back to my wedding day.  I don’t remember having any force of will over anything, even though PJ and I planned it all ourselves.  We did a lot of really cool things that you’ll never see at anyone’s wedding, and we’re both pretty proud of that.  Yet… that day came and went, 10 years came and went, my past came and went… and I barely recognize the person I remember being back in those days.

Being.  Floating.  Deciding.  Navigating.  Participating.  Remembering.  It’s a fine line between all those things.

Pattern Recognition

I’ve got the peddle to the floor and I’m driving it at 200 mph straight towards a wall.  Decided to take my hands off the wheel too.

I’m not trying to destroy myself.  Instead of worrying about external things that are beyond my control, I have decided to intensify my focus on the things I can do — the things I do best.

I’ve noticed a pattern.  Every time the worries get to be a bit much, it’s usually because I’ve been spending too much time away from developing my projects.  After writing yesterday’s article, I set about completing some creative notes for my feature film.  Three hours later I found a spring in my step.

The application goes out the door today.  After that I’m sending my play off to theatre companies across the country.  After that I’m doing research for ‘Highwaymen’.  After that, maybe next Monday or Tuesday, I’ll return to some business stuff.  Need to bang on some doors for ‘Crimes of the Art’, ‘Urban Future’, ‘InJustice’, and others.  Need to update the books.  After that, it’s back to ‘Highwaymen’.  After that it’s finish a video for the Red Cross.  Just gotta pay attention to the cycles.

In the meantime there’s a CFL Hall of Fame Luncheon that I scored a free ticket to, then it’s off to a Rider game later today.  My immediate future includes time spent projects and friends.

What could be better?

The Wall

I’ve got the peddle to the floor and I’m driving it at 200 mph straight towards a wall.  Either that wall will open up or I’m gonna hit it.  I ain’t stopping.

It’s not exactly a perfect headspace to be in, but that’s how it feels to be me right now.  My bountiful future meets my cold reality.  This is what it means to be free to live my life.  This is what it means to have no guaranteed income.  This is what it means to be in a constant state of untapped potential meeting monthly financial obligations.  The wall is coming up fast and I’m running out of time.  It’s a constant worry for me these days.

This meeting with the wall is not exactly an either/or proposition either.  Whatever happens, I still believe in my projects.  They may not be ready for right now, but they will be soon.  If the whole thing explodes into a million little pieces, I’ll still land on my feet.  I just need to keep doing what I do best.

Coughing Up the Day

Slow start to the day today.  Rained this morning and I rather enjoyed just laying in bed, listening to the world slosh by my window.  I’m also on the tail end of a summer induced air conditioning cold.  About every 10 minutes or so I’m coughing up something juicy.  I find it kind of satisfying actually.  I feel like I’m accomplishing something every time I do it — not like with a dry cough.  Nothing’s down there to start with, nothing comes up, and nothing happens afterwards, just more coughing.

After keeping the channel open with a wayward friend, I headed into the office to get some work done.  Took care of some niggly CTF stuff and now I’m here typing.

Jazzy wrote another blog article and she’s really getting into the whole layout thing.  She takes the templates and messes with them.  Writing isn’t enough, she’s got to put her touch on them too.  As I’ve told her a bunch of times already, I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Blogging With Jazzy

It’s 5pm on a Monday afternoon and I’m sitting in Atlantis with Jazzy.  She’s drinking a mocha frapp and creating the first ever entry in her very own blog.  Couldn’t be more proud.

PJ cleaned her room last week and found all kinds of notes, bits of paper, and scrapbooks full of half started stories.  It seems my little girl is becoming quite the word smith.  Just wrote them on her own and tucked them away.

I figured a blog would be a good thing.  Jazzy will now be able to connect with her inner self and sort through all the complications of her complicated life.  Maybe she could philosophize about philosophical shit and say profound things like, “Daddy ate a roast beef sandwich today.”  My daughter is deep deep deep like me.

We started the day off in Regina Beach.  I had a shoot for the Red Cross out there where I’m profiling a 21 year old keg of dynamite who’s accomplished more, and given more to her community than most people will in a life time.  She grew up out there and we shot at her family home.  After the interview we switched to the still camera and wandered about the town.

[a moment goes by]

Jazzy just interrupted me to comment that she’s never used the semi-colon key and thinks it should be replaced with something better.  I told her that she should write something that requires a semi-colon.  And that’s that.  Jazzy’s website is complete.  She’s a proud little blogger.  Check her out, give her lots of feedback, and encourage her.

Here’s where you can find her site;

www.jasminerusnak.com

I’m a happy daddy!

Lifeful

About half way through the weekend.  It’s been pretty full so far.  Watched the Rider game at O’hanlon’s last night then crossed the street to partake of the Regina Folk Festival with my friend Linsey and her friend, ‘my friend from BC’ (that’s how Lins refers to him, I didn’t catch his name).

It’s possible I inhaled something intoxicating while there.

The whole city is abuzz with sunshine and folk energy.  This morning I wandered around the Farmer’s Market then walked through the Festival grounds in Victoria park.  Live music was everywhere.  People of all shapes, ages, vocations and sizes were sitting on the grass chilling or dancing.

I even ran into Rich (from the Romanian Syndicate).  He was helping to coordinate one of the events.  We talked football as people buzzed about.

The Rider game itself was alright.  It came down to the final play.  Down by four, from Montreal’s 47 yard line, Durant threw to the end zone towards a mass of humanity.  The clock expired as the ball bounced off several pairs of hands and hit the turf.  Despite suffering from an intestine issue and only eating three meals all week, he passed for over 450 yards.  The defence held Montreal to 50 yards of offence in the 2nd half.  We had a realistic opportunity to beat the champs once more, but we just ran out of time.

I’m about to sit down to coffee with Courtney.  That’s three times in one week already.  Life is full.

Better Than Before

My situation is more or less the same, but my headspace is much better.  The short term is full of question marks, and the future is bright.  All I can do in the meantime is be me.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my play in the last few days, getting it ready for SaskFilm and TeleFilm.  I met with a highly accomplished writer/director yesterday and he agreed to be my script editor.  He even called parts of my play, ‘brilliant’.

If nothing else, the idea of spending my autumn, paying myself to write my own feature film, tickles me.  When I’m not writing my film, I’ll be working on ‘Highwaymen’.  A whole half year of writing!  That’s me at my best.  Took me my whole adult life to learn that.

I walked through my office yesterday and did a mental inventory of all my corporate skeletons.  There’s the pile of obsolete VCR’s from the time I wanted to be a big production company.  There’s 10 desks, 2 filing cabinets, and 12 office chairs left over from the mass of humanity I thought I wanted to manage.  There’s 3 HD work stations left over from our last big project.  There’s the futon, fridge, and microwave set aside for the employees to mingle in the frumping area on breaks.  There’s the art covering every single wall.  There’s the rent.

The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to worry about.  I used to dream about having all that stuff.  Now it feels more like an anchor.  Yet at the same time, I have everything I need to do business on a massive scale.  I green light one project and the place is full again.  Might as well hang on to it.  Everything’s paid for.  And knowing myself, I certainly will not work from home.

In addition to the career stuff, I’ve been spending time with good people in my personal life.  Friends, family, and chance encounters with perfect strangers have filled me up.  It’s gonna be a good weekend!

Two Sides

I make a point of not complaining… certainly not in my blog, and generally not in life either.  Bad energy.  Still… yesterday was a pretty bad day.

I mentioned back in June that I’d be headed for a day of financial reckoning.  Well, that day is fast approaching and it all stems from my condo.  When I did my cash flow projections back in the spring, and concluded that I’d be good, money wise, for a long time.  I hadn’t counted on making a major purchase.  With my nest egg scooped up, I needed to raise a lot of money in a hurry.

I’m not worried about the mid to long term picture.  momMe will be a half million dollar project with the potential to generate another million in profits.  I’m confident my play will be worth about $50,000 in development dollars in the near term.  Sales and green lights for my other projects could be worth a couple million dollars.  Highwaymen when its ready could be close to $20 million.

But these are all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and not one of them is guaranteed.  All of them could happen, or none of them could happen, and each scenario brings its own set of problems.  Most significantly, I can’t go to the bank and borrow from my uncertain future.

In the short term, I got nothin’.  I’m living off the last of my savings and condo payments doth call for me.  Welcome to my life.  Sky high upside.  Crushing downside.

Stay tuned.