Belief

I watched Kate’s play, ‘The Story of Mr. Wright’ at the Globe last night.  It was a gooder.  Really moved me.  As with all good plays, it caused me to look inwards.

The play was about belief.  It follows the true story of a cancer patient (Mr. Wright) who participated in an experimental treatment in the 1950’s.  Though he only had two weeks to live, he made a miraculous recovery.  The tumours in his body seemed to melt away.  He was cured.

Every other patient across the US showed no improvement and the treatment itself was soon proven to be nothing more than snake oil.  When this patient read those reports, he soon relapsed.

At this point his doctor decided to treat Mr. Wright with a saline solution.  He told the patient that he didn’t realize the drug had a short shelf life and as a result, led to his relapse.  The new shipment would be an extra refined super dose that would get him back on track.  The ruse worked, and Mr. Wright once again made a full recovery… until learning the new treatment was smoke & mirrors.  He died within days.

In short, Mr. Wright through the power of his own beliefs, had the power to cure himself, doom himself, cure himself again, and then finally doom himself once more.

As the telling of this story unfolded, the cast related personal stories to the audience, shattering the forth wall by breaking out of character to become one of us.  Kate began by telling the story of her leg.  She was born with a birth defect, where one leg was shorter than the other.  Her parents never allowed her to believe she was ‘disabled’.  At 16, she underwent a procedure to lengthen the leg by breaking her femur, and then continually widening the gap a millimetre at a time, allowing the bone to regenerate itself to close that gap.

She set a goal to play the lead in her high school musical, without crutches, and without a limp.  She set her mind to it and nothing was going to stop her from attaining that goal.  She recovered from the procedure a full three months ahead of schedule to take the stage.

The evening was filled with story after story about belief and the mind’s power to accomplish the impossible.  As I said earlier, I couldn’t help but look inward.  I’m writing this from a bar in downtown Washington DC called Stoney’s.  I’m here to pitch projects to US broadcasters and then after that, to do the same in Toronto.  Spent $2,500 to be here.

Just signed a new lease for a new apartment.  I have no guaranteed income and beyond March nothing is certain.  I’m not worried though.  It simply hasn’t crossed my mind.  Water is wet, sky is blue, and I’m gonna be alright.  I have too many good things going for me and something’s gotta catch.  It just will.

Having said that, I’m reminded of Judy’s story (another cast member).  She lives in what she calls a manageable state of pain every moment of every day of her life.  She’s got cupboards full of pills, herbal remedies, and a plethora of consultations with doctors, therapists, psychologists, and healers.  Nothing’s worked.  Not belief, not modern medicine, not spiritual healing… not anything.

I’m not a fool.  I know there is risk to the lifestyle I live.  I’ve seen very hard times and without dumb luck, help from those who could, and savvy planning, I would have been wiped out a long time ago.  Still, I am here.  I’ve been doing this 15 years.  I’ve raised and burned vast sums of money over that period of time.

I can do it again.  Only this time, I will have all those mistakes under my belt to learn from.

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Laughing at a Funeral

I feel alive.

I can tell because two days after a really intense yoga session, I still have trouble raising my arms.  Dead people don’t complain about stiff joints.  Figured that out myself.

We buried Uncle George yesterday.  It was a good funeral.  A few tears with even more laughter.  Lots of warm memories.  Everyone is going to miss him of course, but he was 85.

Uncle George and Auntie Sophie have been around, together in the same house for over 60 years.  Water is wet, the sky is blue, and you could always drop in on George & Sophie.  So many meals with friends and family around their table.  A little slice of Romania in Regina.

It was like that again last night except Uncle George wasn’t with us.  Traded zingers with family I hadn’t seen around that table in years.  We ate cabbage rolls, cream chicken and mamaliga (corn meal).  Later we played Uno and didn’t bother keeping score.  It was more important to fill the home with laughter, warmth, and life.

When the time comes for them to plant me, I hope there’s laughter.  Life is for living.  Funerals are a good way to remember that.

Forgotten

Went on a date last night.  Forgot my wallet.  She wound up having to pay for everything.  I felt like a boob.  Then as we were walking out she says to me, “I guess this means we have to go out again so you can pay next time.”  I still feel like a boob, but now I guess I’m a lucky boob.

The sun is out again today and the air is almost warm.  People have a skip in their step.  Supposed to hit -1C today.  Approximately awesome for this time of year.  The day has much to offer.

What to make of it?  Been trying to figure that out all morning.  I have shit to do, but all of it can be handled in short bursts.  I don’t wanna dedicate the day to miscellaneous tasks.  It feels like I should write, or create or… something.  Maybe finish a proposal I’ve been putting off?

Maybe I’ll just stare at the world for a spell, let my mind wander and then get to some of the things I have to get to.  It’s hard to dedicate myself to big ideas when niggly little miscellaneous tasks keep nannering in my ear.

So there it is… my plan for the day.  Just one problem.  Forgot the ending to this article at home and…

Dreams of Being Important

Fifteen years ago I worked from my home office and dreamed about having an office with a mass of humanity working for me and we’d have weekly meetings in a boardroom and make decisions about really important things and I’d be the President & CEO of this company and it would be really super duper alright because then I’d be really important.  Now I’m sitting at a table in Atlantis dreaming about the day when my home office will be ready and I can be free from all the trappings, obligations and expense that comes with having an office.  Bet you I burned through a half million bucks in unnecessary corporate overhead during that time.

It’s no wonder making this decision feels like winning the lottery.  There’s probably about 10 million better ways to spend that money.

Having said that… I’m here because of it.  I am the product of everything I’ve ever lived through.  I am a force of will at times with a relentless pursuit of an idea.  If I could talk to the me from fifteen years ago, I doubt I’d even listen.  Expensive lesson.

In a week I’ll be in Washington DC pitching projects to broadcasters.  I’m sitting on a few million dollars worth of my own intellectual property.  If I can move it, I suppose the lesson won’t be that expensive after all.

More than that, I don’t really care about being important anymore.  Money has become a means to an end.  Corporate dreams of boardrooms have given way to aimless meanderings through my best creative ideas.  I’m much happier this way.

Everything eventually comes full circle.

Little Things

It’s been a moving week emotionally because I’m in the process of moving out of my office.

Rolled into town on Monday morning and hit the ground running.  Needed to replace my cell phone because the display wasn’t working and the battery’s shot.  Got three years out of it, so I didn’t feel bad.  Picked up an iPhone 4.  Been looking at it for awhile now and decided to take the plunge.  It’s a phone I can live with for the next three years.

No big sense of elation.  It felt practical… like buying groceries or something.  I needed a new phone, and I got a new phone.  Period.  Perhaps it’s a sign of detachment from material things?  Maybe.  Had a whole week of that ahead of me.

Hit the office, had a quick meeting with Jason, then set about tearing it apart.  Office full of shit.  Where to begin?

I forced myself into a deadline by announcing my office furniture sale on facebook in five days.  I started with all the binders.  Binders full of old proposals, old projects, old legal, logistical, and miscellaneous paper.  Old.  Stored all of it for years.  Years of taking up space and weighing subconsciously upon my mind.  By the time I was done, I had a pile of binders and 16 bins full of paper recycling.

16 Bins!  That’s on top of the garbage, useless artifacts, and shit I didn’t even know I had.  I came to the conclusion that perhaps it wasn’t ego keeping me from making the decision to move.  It probably had a lot to do with me not wanting to tackle that gigantic mountain of fuck.

The sale took place yesterday.  Got rid of two computers, a bunch of trinkets, desk accessories, stationary, old chairs, end tables, and a wooden cabinet.  Still have all my big items, but getting rid of the little things seemed to give me the most satisfaction.  Little things weigh on the mind more than big things.

I’m off to a great start!  Purging really does feel good.

Unloading

I am alive.

Spent the night in Revelstoke because the road wasn’t going to open until 12am.  I’m not driving for two hours, bleary eyed, through the mountains just to wind up stopping in Golden for a sleep.  Settled in for the night and mapped out the next few days.  Just laid in bed, staring at the ceiling and contemplating life changing decisions.  Took a mental inventory of all the stuff in my office.  What to keep?  What to sell?  What to give away?

At first it was agonizing… deconstructing a dream so wrapped up in ego I couldn’t tell practicality from penis envy.  Two hours later I was still laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, except I was considerably more giddy at the prospect of leaving behind so much stuff.  The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to worry about.  Every item I mentally removed from my possession left me feeling lighter.  I hadn’t realized how much of a burden it was on my headspace.  Not only that, but in parting with it, I stand to make a good chunk of change.

Money = time sitting in coffee shops, writing, travelling, and being.  Money tied up in things = burdensome management and storage of said things (which costs even more money, time & headspace).

Hit the road this morning and drove to Golden where the road was still closed due to avalanches.  Detoured south to Radium Hot Springs where the road was also closed for the same reason.  Kept going south to Ferny where I started east.  Drove clean through to Swift Current (two hours from home), where I’m spending the night.  It’s only mid-night, but the road conditions are so awful, visibility so low… well, drive down a highway doing 110 then close your eyes for several seconds.  Do that over and over again.  That’s what it was like.

Gonna get home safe.  Got shit to unload.

Not Sitting Still

I’m here, and I want to get there, but I can’t, cuz I’m stuck here.

The Trans-Canada Highway is closed due to avalanche warnings and I’m stopped in Revelstoke indefinitely.  They might open the road up at around 9pm tonight.  Still hoping to make Calgary, but I’m doing the math and that doesn’t seem likely anymore.  I’m actually not sure what the plan is for the time being.

I’m trying to get on the internet, but it’s moving at a pre-1992 pace.  The display on my cell phone quit working and I’m at a complete loss for information.  What to do?

I can write for the next two hours…

[some minutes pass]

Internet is moving at a better pace now.  Had a chance to sniff around and see what’s what.  Turns out there’s a ‘moderate chance’ the road will open in two hours.  That will get me to Golden.  The highway at Golden is closed until sometime next Tuesday, but I can detour through Radium Hot Springs then come up the 93 North into Alberta.  Adds an hour to the trip, but at least I’ll be moving.  Moving is always better than sitting still.

Puts me into Calgary at about 1am.

Seeing the Sun

I was collecting my things together to move port side.  Sun was too bright starboard.  Smiled at an older couple as I walked passed and explained what I was doing.  They were shocked.  “You’re leaving the sun?”

At this time of year, folks in these parts don’t see the sun much.  Mild grey rainy days are the norm.  People go weeks without direct sunlight sometimes.

Back home, we get sun all the time.  Most sunshine year-round in all of North America in fact.  It’ll be -33 with a wind chill, and exposed skin will freeze in 30 seconds, but it’ll be sunny.

I’m writing from aboard a ferry on the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay.  Spent the night on the Island hanging out with Jocelyn.  She’s a filmmaker friend who’s going through a divorce right now.  Her husband dropped in while I was visiting ‘to pick up a backpack for his trip’.  Really, he just wanted to berate her.  Felt she should be conducting herself a certain way.  Felt she should be saying certain words.  Felt she should actually want to feel a certain way.

I’ve never spoken these types of words out loud to anyone, but I’ve certainly thought them.  I want Court to say certain words, feel a certain way, and do certain things.  The light bulb kinda went off for me.  I already know I have no right to control any of Court’s actions.  I don’t even have those expectations, but I suppose I do harbour a certain fantasy that things will work out to my liking.  Heart strings are hard to quiet.

Court has a lot of flaws, just as I do.  I think she would be better off doing and saying things differently because as she says herself, a lot of things in her life are messed up.  Still, if I don’t like it, that’s my problem, not hers.

I have to ‘pick up my shirt’ from her place sometime.  It’s my football jersey from high school.  Sentimental.  I’ve been putting it off.  I don’t want to say things that will make her cry after I leave.  I don’t want her to say things that will open closed wounds in me.  I suppose if I’m still confused about outcomes, I should just stay away.

These thoughts swam through my mind last night as I watched Jocelyn with her ex.  Didn’t bring it up though.  Didn’t feel a need to.  I suppose that’s progress too.

We otherwise had a wonderful evening together.

Birthday

A rather low key birthday that began with the ghosts of Guinness past kicking my ass.  Jumped in the shower and tried to shake the cobwebs with limited success.  Headed out to Boulevard and hung out for a few hours writing & pissing around (mostly pissing around).  From there I found PJ in her office on campus and we walked home.  Jazzy was already there and she gave me the biggest hug in the world.  I saw her briefly that morning, but my skin was green and the world was spinning.

I met Ali at my new favourite restaurant in Vancouver, Sophies.  It’s a greasy spoon old-fashioned diner with pop culture artifacts stuck to the walls.  Old TV show lunch buckets, 12” vinyl records, Elvis posters, and kids’ toys from eras gone by.  They served me a chocolate milkshake in the tin cup.  I had a cheese burger and Ali had a BLT.

Hadn’t seen Ali in over a year.  Big explosion last time we spoke to each other.  She even de-friended me on facebook for a while.  Through text messages and emails we managed to patch things up.  Didn’t even talk about that last night.  Just picked up where we left off — as if no time had passed between visits.  Perhaps that was the best present of all.

She had a yoga class and we hugged goodbye.  Walking back to my car I happened by a boutique shop that had PJ’s name written all over it.  Bought her a tea-light holder then drove home.  Spent the rest of the evening helping Jazzy with her Romania presentation.  Gave her all my photographs and listened to some Romanian bands I collected.  She’s super excited to make something of all that material.  Later, PJ and I read to each other.  Stuff we wrote, or came across in our wanderings.

Head hit the pillow about midnight.  It was a pretty good day.

Abusive Guinness

Took the Lamborgini out for groceries last night.

I was being metaphorical.  There are beers, and then there is Guinness.  There are cars, and then there are Lamborginis. One doesn’t get wasted on Guinness.  It is an esteemed beer.  You have a couple, then you switch to something else.  To swill Guinness at such a pace, to down it with such haste, to not even let the flavour tickle your taste buds, it’s milky texture coating your tongue, to drink it as if it were anything BUT Guinness… well that’s sacrilege.

It would be like taking the Lamborgini out for groceries.

So I got together with Brian last night for a pint.  He’s an MFA directing student at UBC.  He also played ‘younger me’ in my play at the playwright’s festival last spring.  Great guy.  The conversation was equally great.  One pint accidentally turned into seven.  Unfortunately I broke my own rule and all seven pints were Guinness.

The haze hanging around my head this morning was about as thick as that topping a pint of Guinness.  I felt truly awful.  I believe I was being punished for my sins.  The Lamborgini picked up a few door dings and then dinged me right back.

Haven’t felt this bad since I abused tuica at a Rider game a couple years back.  Tuica is 120 proof Romanian firewater.  The stuff goes down fighting and you can expect a few bruises and temporary blindness the next day.  You could even consider the next day’s penance as part of the ritual.

But Guinness?  Gentle stoic Guinness?  I had no idea the drink had so many dirty tricks up its sleeve.