Cheesy Names

I am well behind in all the work stuff I have to do.  I’m feeling anxiety about it, but at the same time, I’m unapologetic.  The time I take to work, is precious time I take away from being with Jazzy.  Having said that, space is still a good thing.

I set off yesterday with Jazz to do a bit of writing in a coffee shop.  We wound up wandering down King and Queen West instead.  We actually sat in three different coffee shops over the course of four hours, but no work got done.  No reason.  It just worked out that way.

At supper we found ourselves looking at the menus posted outside restaurants down King West, across from the Lightbox.  A man standing outside a very nice Italian restaurant (called ‘Forget About It’) invited us to stand under his heat lamp whilst browsing his menu.  Jazz gave it a once over, looked at the prices, and gave me a nod.

Table cloths, candle light, and a mostly empty room.  She was quite impressed when the waiter opened her bottle of Sprite (from a glass bottle) and poured it into a tumbler for her.  We clearly felt a little low rent for such a high class place, but only for a moment.  They did invite us in after all.

She laughed about not knowing the names of the different cheeses offered with her lasagna.  I didn’t know either, but instead of fessing up, I just told her to ask the waiter as a lesson in asserting herself.  It turned out to be the best lasagna she ever put in her mouth.

Afterwards we got together with Frank and Mae to watch ‘The Hunger Games’.  As usual, she stuck her feet in my lap, demanded a foot rub, and chatted up Mae the rest of the evening.  I’m not the only one impressed with how well she handles herself around people.

Today, I’m sitting in Roncy Bean.  Jazzy’s wandering up and down the street on her own, checking out the various shops.  I am now free to get some work done without feeling guilty.  It’s a pretty good arrangement.

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Sunday Jazz Festival

There wasn’t really a plan to it.  I just grabbed my camera and went for a walk with Jazz.

Our goal was the CN Tower.  Getting there was a meandering journey through father-daughterhood.  I love my little girl so much, but she’s not really so little anymore.

I look back on old photographs of her and feel a sadness.  It’s the sort of feeling I get from seeing photos of loved ones who’ve long since passed.  Little girl Jazzy is long gone.  She’s been replaced by the beginnings of a beautiful young woman.

From Dundas West Station we rode the subway to Bay, then set off for daylight.  Toronto looks very different when you emerge from the underground.  It’s a completely different city.  You start off in one place, and in a blink you’re somewhere else.  It’s like getting off an elevator.  It’s like seeing Jazzy infrequently for short bursts, every three or four months.  It’s a brand new sight.

At Urbana Coffee she asked for something cold, so I bought an iced latte.  We sat in silence across the table from each other.  It was a comfortable silence.  She had her book and iPhone and she was noodling on facebook.  I happened to be browsing myself when I caught a news update, “Jasmine Rusnak wrote: ‘I have the best dad in the world!!!’”

We walked through Queens Park and down University Avenue.  Caught sight of a particular place I’d been to a few times and my mind suddenly drifted towards someone ‘special’ (and I mean that in every sense of the word).  I really wanted Jazz to meet her this trip, but things didn’t work out that way.  Suddenly a voice broke my revelry.  “Daaaaad, I’m hungry.”  Brought a smile to my face.

A short while later, I found myself holding a pint to my lips whilst munching on calamari.  Jazz bought me lunch as a thank you for the iPhone.  It then occurred to me that as a result of this pact, Jazz in essence purchased alcohol for the very first time in her life – and she bought it for me.

The CN tower was our next stop, and Jazz loved it.  She was so excited.  She kept hugging me and talking non-stop.  We explored the heights and watched the sun set from 447 metres above the ground.

We spent the whole day talking to each other.  Really talking.  We swapped philosophical insights.  We laughed.  We talked about family.  We talked about sad things.  We talked about boys (well, I talked and she nodded politely).  She acknowledged her understanding of the situation by uttering the command, “Dance monkey!” a reference to where she wishes to be in any relationship with a boy.

It really was one of the greatest days we ever spent together.  This whole Toronto trip has been amazing.  I miss her so much, sometimes I have to simply NOT think about her.  Three precious days left.  I want to keep the conversation going and stop time.  Freeze it like a photograph.  Can’t though.  Time keeps marching.  All I can do is make new memories.

A Percentage of Cooler

I woke Jazz up yesterday at 11am.  We had a late night playing ‘Settlers of Catan’ at Sharon’s.  Neither of us have played the game before, but we really took to it.  I also became 33% cooler in her eyes.

Trenna is an actress I’ve known for years.  She’s a Saskatchewan girl and she’s also a friend of Sharon’s.  She sat next to Jazz and helped her throughout the game.  Afterwards we learned that Trenna just got booked as a regular on a Sci-Fi series called ‘Defiance’.  Julia Benz (of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fame) will be a co-star.

Jazz put it this way, “Julia Benz worked with Joss Whedon, and now Trenna is working with Julia Benz! That makes us two degrees of separation away from Joss Whendon!!!”

So to this point, Toronto’s been a bit of a whirlwind for her.  I didn’t really have a plan for the day so she suggested we go to the mall.  Seemed alright to me.  So we headed downstairs to have breakfast with Bacia before embarking on our day.  A few hours after that, I did something that caused Jazz to nearly break my ribs.

I remember looking at the price, $500, and feeling conflicted.  Jazz just stood beside me, trying not to get her hopes up – mostly because I told her as much.  Then it occurred to me that just yesterday, I was prepared to hand Apple $500 to fix Jazzy’s computer.

I had no idea that I was about to purchase an iPhone 4s for her until I said ‘yes’ to the girl behind the counter at Koodo.  I’ve wanted to buy Jazzy an iPhone since last year.  I kept telling her I’ll do it once I green light a series.  I then proceeded to have the worst year of my career, financially.

She wrapped her arms around me so tight I wanted to buy her 3 iPhones.  It was a great day to be Jazzy’s daddy.

I’m now 52% cooler by the way.

Experience It

There was a moment last night when I was sitting on the balcony with Jazzy and Bacia.  Frank was working on his bike on the driveway.  It felt like a perfect ‘Toronto Family’ moment.

Jazz and Bacia are getting along famously.  It’s like they’ve known each other for years.  It’s like how I feel when I’m sitting at her table.  She seems to be digging Frank as well.

Jazz and I crammed into his truck last night and drove downtown to Mae’s.  She has a pool in her condo and we all went swimming.  Mae lent Jazz something to wear in the pool.  Afterwards we walked down to Dundas Square for a bite.  It was a perfect way for Jazzy to experience her first Toronto evening.

Frank decided to stay the night at Mae’s and offered me the keys to his truck to we could get home.  I declined.  It was an opportune moment to introduce Jazz to another Toronto pastime – riding the subway.  She’s never seen anything like it and she quickly figured out how everything connects to everything else.

Today we rode it to Eaton’s Centre for a pilgrimage to the Apple Store.  Jazzy’s laptop is on it’s last hinge.  The display isn’t working properly, and it’s been wearing on her mind.  The technician spent a few minutes with it and gave us the news.

“We’re going to have to replace the display and the outer casing.  It will look and feel like a brand new computer when we’re done with it.”

Good news.  And then it got better.

“Obviously there’s no warranty left on the computer, and this would normally be a $500 repair, but we’ll do it for free.”

Jazzy was ready to jump in the air and sing show tunes for the entire store.  “I love Toronto!!!!”  To celebrate, I took her to Marche and she immediately declared it her new very favourite restaurant in the whole world.  It’s difficult to describe Marche.  You just have to experience it – which has sort of been a theme for me where Jazzy’s concerned.

She’s here for 7 more days.  I want so much for her to experience ALL of the people who’ve touched my life out here in the last 5 months.

The Only Thing That Matters

In just over two hours, I’ll be picking Jazzy up from the airport!  Also, I can’t seem to find my clean laundry anywhere.

I’ve been walking through the streets of Toronto and imagining Jazzy walking with me.  I’m imagining seeing the city for the first time through her eyes.  We have eight precious days together and I want to make the most of it.  I’m excited for her to meet the people I care about out here.  I’m excited to make her a part of my life – at least for the next eight days.

The only thing I’ve planned definitively, is the route home from the airport.  I’m taking the 401 all the way to the Don Valley, then back west on the Gardner.  To this point Toronto will look like any other big city.  Nothing exceptional, but certainly impressive.

Then we round the corner on the Gardner and BOOM!  There’s the CN Tower, there’s the skyline, there’s a six lane expressway cutting right through the middle of Canada’s largest city.  We’ll ride that a spell then turn off onto Jamison Ave.  Quick left on King West and there’s Lake Ontario.  She’s used to living spitting distance from the Pacific Ocean, so that probably won’t impress her as much as it does me.  Still, a quick right and then we’re on Roncesvalles.

Maybe at this point we stop and walk around.  Maybe I take her all the way home (ten more minutes up the road).  Don’t know.  Don’t care.  I’ll be with my beautiful little girl, and that’s the only thing that matters.

Simply The Gooders

I’ve been focusing on simplifying my life.

No more complex friendships.  No more friends with benefits.  No more pursuing women who I know’ll be bad for my headspace, or who I don’t respect.  No more make out sessions on dance floors with girls I’ll never see again (actually, that only happened once).

No more giving up giant pieces of myself to those who give nothing back.

I deleted a bunch of numbers from my phone, and purged a bunch more off facebook.  Scrubbed my SKYPE account clean too.  Their names no longer come up whilst scrolling through my daily technological interactions.  But for one or two, they’re no longer in my thoughts either.  I’ve seriously retarded my ability to contact them, even if I wanted too.

It’s not like I’ve been a big whore or anything.  My last bit of carnal knowledge came sometime in December, and that was with a girl I’d been seeing.  I just needed to limit the confusion of possibilities I had swimming around my headspace.

For five years, I’ve been like a moth to the flame.  Dysfunctional, crazy, and/or unstable women got the best parts of me.  When I wasn’t chasing those shiny objects, I was filling up my plate with ‘friends’ whom I’d want to be more than friends, but never got anywhere with because I’d already fallen into ‘friend’ territory.

In my life there is my career, my home, my family, my ‘true’ friends, and now space for someone meaningful to enter.  This isn’t to say I can’t be friends with women, I’m just planning to be more clear in my intentions with them.  Indeed, I continue to have fabulous friendships with many women in my life.  Probably more female friends there than male – but that’s just me.

Relationships are simple when you define them.  You and I both agree that we will focus on being lovers.  We have the same expectations and motivations.  If it works out, great!  If not, that’s okay too.  I’ve been through my share of heartbreak.  Always got a story out of deal.  Kept a few treasured memories and let the bad ones fade.  Though I may have tumbled a spell, I always landed on my feet.

I was using the ‘royal you’ there just now – the ‘you’ you are when we’re talking about all of us.  My mom reads this stuff.

So there it is.  Simplicity.  From now on, I’m only chasing the gooders.

Chocolate Soy Breakfasts with Bacia

My first St. Patty’s day in Toronto was spent on Roncesvalles.  I walked the strip for a while and found something to eat.  Wrote some, walked some more, and then finally settled in at Roncy’s Bean.  After a few hours of research, Sharon joined me at my table.

Her and Jerry just got back from the Dominican after recovering from a bout of horrible news.  Being away was a good opportunity for her to sort her tangled thoughts.  Hanging out with me was an opportunity to NOT think for a little while.  It was St. Patty’s Day afterall, so getting drunk was perfectly on the menu.  Jerry caught up with us at Gate 403 and the evening just flowed from there.

On a completely unrelated note, I discovered that mixing chocolate soy milk with my protein mix makes for an excellent shake.  Bacia won’t shut up about ‘em.  Every morning at breakfast I pull out the blender while she fixes breakfast.  I mix it up and make two shakes for ourselves.  They’re the very first two things we consume in the morning.

Can’t wait to introduce Frank to our new tradition.  He gets back from Panama sometime tonight.  He and Tonia were visiting Janicel.  Think I might have mentioned that in a previous article, but just in case I hadn’t, I did just now.

This sentence will make for a fifth paragraph.  And this sentence will wrap things up nicely.

Thresholden Exit

What a week!

Picked up a bit of work researching and writing for a Vancouver producer.  I can work from Toronto and if I do a good job, there’ll be more work coming my way.

In the meantime I finished my ‘Hog Town’ script.  Took me a hellova time to finish.  Found myself on page 21 with no end in sight.  Closed my laptop in despair and rode the bus home.  Then as I stepped through the exit, the threshold from inside the bus, to outside the bus, I figured it all out.

‘Dous et Machina’ is a phrase that literally means, ‘from the machine’.  Ancient Greek playwrights used to resolve all the conflict in their stories by having a god appear (lowered from the roof, via a machine), and tell everyone how things were going to be.

It is the worst of all possible ways to end a story.  So naturally, I gave it a shot.  The ‘producer’ character in the story told everyone what to do, and then he left.  As a metaphor it worked.  As an ending, I still hated it.  Spent the last few days polishing it, and I think I’m happy with it.  Sent it off to said producer just now (he’s in the script), and we’ll see if we can put it in development.

In the meantime, I have a weekend full of research and writing ahead of me.  The sun is out.  I’m getting paid (by someone else) to sit in coffee shops & cafes to do what I do best.  Things are great!

BNJD 773

I just got new Ontario plates for my car.  The lady handed them to me and upon quick glance, I noticed they ended with the numbers ‘773’.

73 is a number that always seems to come up in my life.  It’s the year I was born.  It’s the number that happen to be on the side of the truck Shawn, Ron, and I raced.  My condo in Regina will be 773 square feet and on and on it goes.  73 is a big deal to me.

So naturally I am delighted with my new plates.  Plates.  Plural.  That’s what the ‘s’ there means.  I have to put two plates on my car.  Bit of a problem.  I have no front bracket on my car, and I don’t like the way a front bracket would look anyway.  I’ll just go with one until someone tells me to do something different.

I also got around to publishing my book today.  I compiled it in December, but didn’t get around to finishing the job until today.  Another way to spend my CBC money.

I also got an email from TSN today.  They want to talk.  Mostly they want to tell me to take ‘Highwaymen’ to CTV.  As a sports broadcaster, they can’t guarantee a regular spot for a scripted series.  Being on at a regular time is important to a show’s success.

I’m not surprised to hear this, nor am I disappointed.  I see it as another step.  TSN and CTV are sister companies and I’m hoping TSN can open a back door for me.  There are other ways they can help too.  The possibilities and opportunities are not few.  I just want to get in a room with ‘em and keep the conversation alive.

73 times is the charm.

Distant Anthropological Perspectives

Interesting day.  That would be a throw-away phrase which means almost nothing, except to acknowledge simply, that this article has begun.

I hung out with The Girl and her brother this afternoon.  We had a nice time, wandering all over downtown Toronto together.  The vibe was weird.  Naturally weird though, not convoluted weird.  It’s what happens when I think too much about human interactions, whilst being in the middle of said interactions.

She and her brother are tight.  A raging stampede of diametrically opposed elephants couldn’t break their bond.  Her and I are in a strange purgatory of closeness.  He and I don’t know each other.  With me in the mix, they can’t really be themselves, without excluding me.  Her and I can’t really be ourselves lest we exclude him.  That leaves he and I to catch up with each other.

Making matters more convoluted, was me being the writer.  I was living somewhere deep inside my head, observing the situation from a distant anthropological perspective, whilst being smack in the middle of it.  Sometimes I think I think too much.

Her brother and I bonded over the irresistible lameness of ‘Stargate’.  It was a good way to spend an afternoon.  Both of me seems to agree on that point.

Afterwards I dropped in on Frank’s friend Nadia at her work.  She digs creepy behaviour, so I figured my sudden appearance would be welcome.  She introduced me to her other friend, who was also visiting.

Nadia’s friend’s husband is in the midst of a mid-life crisis.  They have agreed to an open relationship as a result, and she’s now having her issues with the whole thing.  The arrangement has evolved as rather one-sided.

I live for these kinds of conversations, and ours was turning into a gooder.  The friend gave me her phone number, and we made tentative plans to go out for drinks tomorrow night.

I’m like that moth, seeking out flames of really screwy human behaviour.  It fuels my understanding of what makes people tick.  It helps me to understand myself and my surroundings better.  It keeps me sufficiently distracted from diving too deeply into my own fucked up human relationships.

And sometimes I get burned.