Mining Tragic Histories

I awoke at 6am to the fire alarm in my building.  For a moment I contemplated rolling over and going back to sleep.  Instead I brushed my teeth, got dressed, put a hat on and set out for Atlantis.  By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, the alarm was off.  Turns out someone burned toast.

Kind of a perfect metaphor for my morning.  I’m planning to dig up unhappy memories today and mine them for dramatic purposes.  Later today, Jazzy and I will be entering the SPC’s 24 hour playwriting competition.  She’ll be in the student category and I’ll be in the open.  I won the competition last time I entered and subsequent development led to some of the most satisfying moments of my writing career.

I feel like there’s been enough time between the unpleasant memories of my recent past and my perspective on them in the present.  I started by re-reading every email I ever received from her.  Yes, I still have them.  I’ll be going over old blog articles after this as well.  I already know that there are memories living between the words I wrote about those times.  The happy words take on a tragic hue when viewed through the lens of hindsight.  The sad words seem almost comical when viewed as a whole.

I still have lessons to learn from that history.  Heartbreak aside, she’s still a fascinating character.  Writing her will involve mentally walking myself through her shoes, figuring out what she wants, why she wants it, and why she can’t find it within herself to go out and get it.  I want the audience to fall in love with her, just as I once did.  I want them to laugh and I want them to cry.

The antagonist of this story will be my penis, played by a character named Richard.

Underclocking My Capacity to Bitch

Well hell!  All that for nothing.

It was with a heavy heart that I checked out the Apple Store for a replacement laptop.  I felt like I was cheating.  Like I was hitting the dating sites while my lover lay on her death bed.  Everything was shiny and new and faster and better than Sweeney.  Must be a ton of things in my life I could replace without a second thought.  But Sweeney?

It’s only been three years.

The root of my problem stems from heat.  Sweeney is a first generation MacBook Air.  Sleek and lightweight.  Not a lot of room for heat to escape.  When he gets too hot, he shuts down one processor and runs the other at half capacity.  It’s one way to cool the cores, but it’s also like pouring seawater on an open reactor – maybe not the best way to do things.  Everything bogs down.  Becomes almost unusable.

The tech at the computer shop told me about a $10 app called ‘Coolbook’.  Lets me take control of Sweeney’s processors.  Specifically, it lets me underclock ‘em and run ‘em on less power.  Let’s me run both cores at 80% capacity, on lower voltage, and thereby generating far less heat.

Now I realize, this sounds like a lame solution (not to mention downright geekable), but how much power do I really need to write and surf the internet?  Phillie is my Mac Truck.  Sweeney is my Jetta.  They both have their times and places in my life, and now they’re BOTH back to being 100% usable.

With that, I can now get back to writing about more interesting things in my life (cuz I know my many… errr… four of you who read this are waiting on baited breath).

Working the Problem

I’m tapping at my laptop for the first time in a few days.  It’s been downright unpleasant to write lately and I decided that something needed to be done.  To this end, I backed up my computer then reformatted my hard drive.  After meticulously reinstalling only my most essential software (Mac OS X and iLife), my heart sank.

Same old problems flared back up.  Dog slow.  I continued working the problem and have finally accepted that I need professional help.

Complicating matters is the burning sensation I feel from NOT writing.  Note pads are not an option.  Moving my blog to Phillie is also not an option.  I need to be mobile when I write.  I need to sit in coffee shops and muse and futz and tap away.

In the meantime I’ve been doing other things.  Sat on my balcony yesterday soaking up the sun with a beer in one hand and a box of leftover pizza in the other.  Pretty damned perfect moment.

Didn’t have anything pressing to get to either.  Phillie was in the midst of a two-hour render, so I was already, technically speaking, being productive at work.

Finally used my new gym membership too.  The fire alarm in my building went off at 8pm.  I finished up some things on Phillie then set him to work on another render.  The fire alarm goes off every four months or so, and only once was there actually a fire (elevator motor on the roof overheated).  Usually someone’s kid is the culprit.  Never did find out the cause of this last one, but regardless, the opportunity to hit the gym presented itself.

And now after re-reading everything I just wrote, I’m asking myself what the hell this burning sensation to write was all about.  Clearly nothing profound was lurking in them thar paragraphs.  The balcony was pretty cool, but otherwise it was just me bitching about my computer.

Just what am I doing here anyway?  This thing started off as a travelogue through Romania a few years back.  Re-read those early articles to a friend the other day.  Every day was an exotic new adventure.  My day to day life in Regina has a different emphasis.

But then again, maybe not.  All I do is write about my day and my thoughts about the day.  Doesn’t matter where I am or what I did.  My laptop problems go beyond inconvenience.  It affects my way of being.  It affects my freedom to express myself in the way I choose to express myself.  A big part of my life has emerged dysfunctional and needs addressing.  I guess putting THAT into words is what I’ve been burning to get out.


Jazzy and her friend Kayla are roaming the downtown streets of Regina this morning.  They met me in Atlantis an hour ago and hit me up for some money.  One bought a medium hot chocolate, the other a cappuccino.  Did I mention they’re 12 years old?

Jazzy handled the airport quite well.  She got off the plane in Calgary and found a place to piss.  Priorities.  She then noticed there was no gate number printed on her boarding pass, so she went looking for the monitors.  At this point she realized that she couldn’t read the monitors because she forgot her glasses at home.  No worries.  She wandered around until she found a set of monitors that were closer to her eye level so she could read them.  From there she went to Starbucks, got herself a treat, found her gate and did homework until her plane boarded.

I took her to yoga last night.  There was lots of meditation this time around.  Jazzy quite enjoyed it and wants to come back next week.  Afterwards she fell into her own conversations with some of the other yogis.  They were all quite impressed with her.  Needless to say, I’m a proud proud dad.

I had a few revelations last night during our meditations.  I’ve been struggling, as everyone does, seeking to find balance between all parts of my life.  Everything just kind of clicked.  Saw a truth I always knew was there, but hadn’t really looked at before.

I am my career.  You can’t take the filmmaker, out of me.  I am not driven by money or material possessions.  Quite simply, my purpose is to create.  Period.  So long as I am doing everything to nurture my career, every other aspect of my life will fall into place.  Love, ambition, money, esteem, spirituality, relationships, friendships, mashed potatoes… all of it comes out of me being me, at my very best.

The sun is out.  The day is bright.  My little girl is home.  Life is good.

The Journey of 12 Years and Counting

I just said the words out loud, “The calculator on my iPhone is cool!”  Yes, that was an exclamation mark.  Even more hilarious was the fact that the guy I was talking to not only agreed with me, but went on to say that he has 3 different calculator applications on his iPad.

We’re both single and available.

I talked to PJ this morning.  Big ordeal getting Jazzy on the plane.  She forgot her carry-on at home.  This will also be the first time she travels on a connecting flight.  They’ll be a one-hour layover in Calgary.  She’ll have just enough time to exit one plane, find a snack, check the monitors, and figure out her departure gate to board another.  I talked her through everything and she seems pretty confident.  She’s been on enough planes and airports that she should be familiar with the environment at least.  The only new snag will be hanging out in Calgary by herself for an hour.

I just realized that this journey marks the first time ever that she’ll be completely on her own.  12-year old Jazzy will have no parents, no friends, no other family, or paid attendants to help her… no one but her and her wits to get from one city to another, via yet another.  I’ll find out in an hour how she did.

Did I ever mention what my present will be on her 18th birthday?

Bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a plane ticket to anywhere.  There’s no education like the sort you receive seeing a foreign country through the eyes of a local.  Just as everything PJ and I have done for her as parents, have been about teaching her self confidence, esteem, and worth, so she can make it through high school, so too shall all these mini-trips across Canada be for that eventual journey.

Without a Hitch

The vignettes I did for the Mayor’s Arts & Business Awards went over well.  I’m officially ‘facebook’ friends with two of the artists I profiled now, and a number of others expressed an interest in working with me down the road.  I had a nice conversation with Mayor Pat about the downtown revitalization plan he’s been working on (and that I’ve been blogging about on occasion), and I even had a chance to chat with King Ralph, my local Member of Parliament.  Many other prominent members of the arts and business community were also present.  Mostly, I’m pleased that the show went off without a hitch.

Jazzy flies into town tomorrow afternoon.  I am looking upon her arrival with an increased sense of undiluted pleasure.  She hasn’t seen my new place yet.  I’m planning to take her to yoga and show her off to all the yoga creatures.  I’m also going to get her to help me with the Red Cross vignettes that need doing by the end of the month.  I’ll pay her too.  She’s at an age now where she’s gained designs on things that can only be had through an exchange of currency.

With that I will wrap things up.  I’m about to sit down to a celebratory drink and my company just showed up.

Sufficiently Impressed With The Real World

After wrapping up my blog last night in O’Hanlon’s, I walked over to a friend’s table to bid him a good night.  Wound up sitting down and having another pint instead.  He and the rest of the table were all working on the Globe Theatre’s latest production, ‘Jake and the Kid’.  Artist types.  My kinda people.

Funny how after feeling so edgy, a ready made remedy presented itself.  I wasn’t even in the mood to be around people, but the universe clearly had something else in mind.  A door opened and I simply had to walk through.

Today has gone well.  The Red Cross was sufficiently impressed with me to want me back for another shoot.  In addition, another client was blown away by the work I delivered yesterday.  Her phone call actually woke me up this morning.  She was like, “am I calling too early?” and I responded simply with, “no, I had to answer the phone anyway.”

I taught photography to my students this afternoon.  It went well.  Have an interesting assignment in store for them.  I’ll be asking them to identify a ‘model’ whom they have a crush on.  Ideally, someone they haven’t really talked to before.  Photographing this model and coming up with six photographs that tell a visual story goes a million miles beyond a simple academic assignment.  Doing a brilliant job and making her feel beautiful may lead to other things.  Fuck up, phone in your work, not give a shit about what you’re doing, and you can kiss your opportunity good-bye.  Three relationships actually got started with that assignment in semesters past.

In general, I try to tie all of my assignments with them back to the real world.  Our time together will come and go.  What we learn and the discoveries we make about ourselves will last a lifetime.  Doors always open for me whenever I put the best of myself out there.

One of the students commented that whenever I’m done being an ‘artist or whatever’ I should try teaching, because I’m good at it.  Obviously I was flattered.  The truth is, I really enjoy spending one afternoon a week with this group.  Teaching is being, because there’s no time for your mind to wander.  You are actively engaged, constantly checking in, making sure you’re reaching your audience.  It’s a hellova’n outburst of energy, but I always get back more than I put in.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m not really sure what the rest of the day has in store for me.  Don’t really care either.

Faster Than I Can Type

I’m using my laptop less and less.  Some kind of an OS thing that’s causing my computer to run slower than dog shit down an Arctic sludge pipe.  It’s got me feeling more than a little edgy.  I mean, when I can type words faster than they appear on the screen, something’s seriously wrong.

Don’t want to go into more detail here…. but I guess I will.  I’m no luddite when it comes to technology.  I know for a fact that nothing is wrong with the hardware.  In February I downgraded my operating system to Mac OS 10.5.1 (the OS is shipped with) and it ran like new.  Subsequent security updates have caused disagreements between my laptop, and the OS running from deep within its belly.

Last night I attended a poetry reading with Danica at the Lieutenant Governor’s Residence.  It’s poetry month in Saskatchewan and about 90 guests were invited to listen to readings by Don Kerr and Judith Kraus.  I think that’s her name.  The evening was inspiring.

I write lots.  I’ve studied the craft of story telling extensively and have much to learn.  I have even more to learn about poetry.  It’s actually embarrassing how little I know about the genre.

Is poetry a genre?  Whatever.  I plan to study it in a university setting next semester.

It also got me thinking about my own writing.  It’s been a goal of mine to be published some day.  Legitimately published, where a publisher actually pays to edit and promote my book, and maybe I could wander through a random book store in a city not named ‘Regina’ and find it on the shelf.  That would be pretty super duper alright.

Still no news by the way.  You know, the news I mentioned I might be hearing this week?  Hasn’t come yet.  I feel myself beginning to climb the walls a bit.  Don’t like that’s it’s having such an affect on my mood.  Maybe I’ll go for a walk or bump into some friends later.  My mind’s racing and I need to quiet it some.

This has become the most random blog article ever.  Mac OS X.  Poetry.  Ambition.  Future Plans.  Headspace.  I generally like to tie things together with a theme.  Can’t tonight.  The thoughts are coming faster than I can type ‘em.

Didn’t Mean to Change the World

Spent most of the day with Dr. Joan Durrant, my third interview of the trip.  Joan is all about the banning of corporal punishment of children.  No spanking.  She’s been working with groups around the world seeking to explain the concept of ‘positive discipline’.  She was asked to write a brochure on the subject and that turned into a 200 page book that’s since been reprinted in 17 languages and led to the banishment of corporal punishment in several countries.

Joan is super cool.  We talked for an hour before the shoot and several hours afterwards.  Life.  Love.  Ambition.  Philosophy.  Politics.  Football.  She never set out to singlehandedly make the world a better place.  She just found herself in the right place at the right time with a means to help those who asked.

One more interview tomorrow and then I hit the road homeward bound.  Got much to chew on for the drive home.

“Leap and the net will catch you.”

I’m expecting an important bit of news this week.  The next three years of my life could be in for some big reverbations.  Made a point of not dwelling on the possibilities too much.  I’ll save that luxury for when I actually have something tangible to muse about.  In the meantime I have some clear beginnings and endings to get to.

Still… I feel something in my bones.  Be the light.  Do what I do best.  Walk through the doors that seem open for me.  Stay in the moment and leap.

The three most recent remarkable human beings I’ve spent time with have reenforced that concept in my mind.

Will Catch You

I’m sitting at a table in The Forks Market in Winnipeg.  It’s a cornucopia of foods, shops and other boutiques.  There’s a busker over there playing a mandolin and a 2-year-old is captivated by him.

They call it ‘The Forks’ because it’s the place where two rivers meet, The Assiniboine and The Red.  Both are waaaay higher than normal this spring.  They’ve been sandbagging around the clock for a couple days now.  Big call for volunteers.  Wish I would have brought grubby clothes with me.

I interviewed two remarkable human beings thus far.  Amanda is a twenty-something volunteer who started her own NGO.  Together with her partner, they raised enough money to build a school in East Africa ($7,500).  Went over there, hired local contractors, made sure every dollar made its way into the local economy.  None of it was gobbled up in admin costs.  She didn’t even pay herself.  Her next project is a community home to shelter homeless children in that same country.

Sister Leslie took over a building in downtown Winnipeg that has become home to Cocaine Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other addictions groups.  It’s a warm place for the city’s cold to come in an sit in the quiet, stay, pray, think, or heal.  It’s a place for convicts to come to when they’re looking for ways to integrate back into society.  It’s a place where women of all faiths, from all over the world may come to live while they get back on their feet again.

Between the two of them, countless lives have been touched in a positive way.  I still have two interviews to go.

On the drive up my mind had a good opportunity to wander.  I think I’m close to figuring out something that I’ve been looking for.  Don’t exactly have words for it.  Clarity maybe.  Love?  I’m not sure.  It’s a fine line between looking for what’s missing and letting it come find you.  Seems the later is better.

56,000 people have walked through the House of Peace.  Sister Leslie said she never set out to do something great.  There was no plan.  No money.  She didn’t even know how the space could be used.  All she knew is that building was destined to be a parking lot if she didn’t move in.

She told me about a Zen expression she’s fond of.  “If you leap, the net will catch you.”