Complicating A Simple Operation With the Help of My Dad

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The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind.  I flew into Vancouver with my Dad on Thursday to help a family member move.  The plan was to rent a truck when we landed, pack the stuff, and drive it into Regina – he with the truck, me with her car.  We got back into town yesterday afternoon, emptied the truck, and settled in for the night at mom’s.  Mission accomplished.  I will say that the trip was quite moving.

Ha.  Pun.  Didn’t mean for that to happen.  I digress.

I think I was 8 when Dad and I last flew somewhere together.  He bought a septic truck in Edmonton to replace the one that was totalled in an accident.  His business was in jeopardy and time was of the essence.  I’m certain the trip was quite nerve wracking for him, but for me it was something I’ll never forget.  I got to be with my dad on a plane, and later on a long road trip home.  We ate borscht in a roadside cafe on the way home.  He kept playing with the split-shift, learning how to use it, because his last truck didn’t have one.  I didn’t need to be on that trip with him, but he brought me along.  Didn’t take my brother.  Just me.  Made the whole thing extra special.

This trip was a bit different from that experience.  It’s been three decades.  We’ve both evolved into our own way of doing things.  Some of these things include the way we travel. He likes to wake up early and putz around in the morning.  I was sitting in the car waiting for him, watching the minutes go by.  Our plane was going to be boarding in 25 minutes and we still hadn’t left the house!  I was livid as we stood in the security line in the airport, hearing the final call for our flight being announced.  “Don’t worry,” he said, “they won’t leave without us.”

I bit hard on my lip, and tried not to lose my cool.  “Yes they will,” I muttered under my breath.  We stood in silence, the rest of our wait.

A second security line miraculously opened up just as I was preparing the speech I was about to bash him over the head with.  We made it onto the plane with less than a minute to spare.  The speech would have to retire to that place in my mind where I send ammunition for future inevitable arguments.  By the time we landed in Calgary, my anger had given way to distraction, as I chatted up the hot girl sitting beside me.  She had a ring on her left finger and her man was sitting behind her.  Guess my chances weren’t very good.  At least I wasn’t mad at my dad anymore.

It was great to be back in Vancouver.  Not sure when I’ll ever return.  We rented a truck and had it about 90% loaded when I left to meet my friend McKenzie for drinks.  I guess Dad confused me ‘stating my intention to leave when it was convenient’ with ‘asking for permission.’  He gave it – which was nice, but not really on the table for discussion in my mind.

McKenzie left Toronto a few months back to work on a movie in Vancouver.  In a few more weeks she’ll be headed back to Australia indefinitely.  Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her one more time.  What do I say about that conversation?  She paid for the drinks.  We laughed.  We philosophized.  We shared our stories.  Then I walked her to work.  “See you someday soon,” was the last thing I said to her.  Might have to make a trip to Oz to realize that statement.  Who knows what the future may bring.

When I got back to the condo, Dad had the truck loaded.  Nothing to do but talk with the previously mentioned family member.  Can’t get into details right now because I’m sharing those details with her, and I don’t want to complicate her situation more than it already is.  Lots of memories.  Lots of love.  Lots of thoughts I choose not to be conscious of right now. Simpler that way.

And then there is Dad.  He was up at 3 fucking AM and got my ass out of bed at 4am.  We were on the highway by 4:30 because he didn’t want to get caught up in Vancouver traffic.  Had he bothered to consult my opinion, I would have reminded him that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Vancouver over the years, and Saturday morning traffic at say, 6:30 or 7am is negligible at best.  I remember driving through a snow covered mountain pass, bleary eyed, wishing I would have mentioned that to him.

Guess I’m just in the habit of going along with his plans when he puts himself in charge of something.  We drove 16 hours that day.  My head hit the pillow and I was pretty sure that fixating on highway lines at night for that long had me road stoned.  Inanimate objects were bending and vibrating in the hotel room.  Two extra hours of sleep that morning would have been nice.

Dad had me out of bed at 5:30am the next morning.  Why fucking why!?  In six hours we’d be home.  I didn’t see why it was so important to be there so early in the day.  He mentioned something about wanting to unload and get the truck returned.  Twenty minutes later I found myself sitting in the car with the engine running in the hotel parking lot for five minutes waiting waiting waiting, wondering why I was waiting when we’re in such a big damned hurry to be on the road.  When I stormed back into the hotel room to see what the delay was, I discovered my father cleaning the coffee pot that came with the room!

“It’s a hotel room dad!  We don’t have to clean it when we leave!”

Later, he had a nice long drawn-out conversation with the gas station attendant in North Battleford, before spending another 10 minutes sitting in the truck consulting his notes.  I idled in the gas station parking lot the whole time, calculating how many more minutes of sleep I had given up to be there.

Eventually we were back on the highway.  My radio was off and my mind turned with the miles.  Lots to think about.  Memories of my dad.  Memories of my family in a life I once lived.  Memories of my career.  Ambitions for the future.  Toronto.  Suddenly the walkie comes alive.  Dad is radioing me, suggesting we stop in Lumsden (20 minutes outside Regina) to wash the car.  “No,” was the only word to pass my lips before I could even contemplate a response.  Saying more would have been unkind.

By the time it came to unloading the truck my patience had run out.  Dad and I had different ideas about how to most efficiently complete the operation.  The objections became a bit loud, and the whole time, I kept thinking of our road trip three decade previous.

We weren’t really disagreeing about logistics.  Those were just words.  We were caught up in some stupid alpha male thing.  The classic father/son struggle for identity and dominance.

I think its hard for parents to let go of the idea that their children aren’t children anymore.  Sometimes it’s hard for the children to remember that their parents are used to being in a certain role.  I love my dad.  This trip was one I’ll never forget.  I just wish we didn’t have to be in such a big damned hurry to get it over with.

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Christmas Morning!

It’s Christmas morning.

I’m planning to do nothing productive all day long.  In fact, I’m going to revel in doing nothing productive all day long.  I’m going to talk to loved ones on the phone.  I’m going to send out warm thoughts.  I’m going to play cards with the family.  I’m going to stay inside all day long.  I’m probably going to skip my shower too.  Leave my hair messy.

I’m also going to make Jazzy laugh throughout the day.  We’ve had a great time so far.  She joined in on her first game of Canasta ever – and held her own.  We visited Shyanne, her boyfriend Travis, and her sister Lindsay for a few hours yesterday.  Had a great time. They told Jazzy stories about me from the family folklore – like the time I got drunk on Mike’s homemade beer when I was 17 and threw up all over the kitchen table.

Yesterday brought many memories that will last a lifetime.  I think my favourite was when Jazzy and I just sat on her bed together – just sitting, doing our own individual things, not talking, but being together.  I wrote Christmas cards while she played on the computer.  Exchanged the odd witty wittisism.  We spend so many thousands of miles apart most of the time, and suddenly we’re so close.  In many ways, we’re never that far apart.  She’s one of my best friends.

Earlier in the day we made homemade sausages with Grama.  Mom was there to take photos.  Four generations around a sausage grinder.  Some kind of a metaphor lurks in that image.  Not sure if it’s good or bad, but the homemade sausage we serve up at Christmas brunch is the best!

We opened presents last night.  I bought Jazzy a dress from a small shop in Kensington Market in Toronto.  It’s white, with a hoody, and a black print.  You could stare at that print all day and continue to see new things in it.  She loved it!  Very Toronto.  Wrapped her arms around me so tight, I couldn’t breathe.  Then she read the card I wrote for her, while sitting on the bed earlier.  Another big hug.

Some years Christmas comes and goes and it’s really ‘nice’.  This year, it feels so much more meaningful.  I’ve been missing home lately.  Being here with those who mean the most to me is the greatest gift of all.

The Odds of Starting My Day with Those Who Matter Most

Playing Canasta with the family signals the beginning of a holiday.  Men verses the Women.  After two hours of playing, all we needed was a damn 7 and we win.  Turn after turn, I kept looking at that stack of cards, working my best voodoo, juju, card magic, but to no avail.  Mom drew two of ’em right after my turn.  Women won.

The day was a nice mix of doing nothing and cutting video.  Finished my project and am now ready to invoice.  With a little luck, I might get to finish a second project before December 31.  That would be satisfying.

Enough about work stuff.  Jazzy flies in today at 4pm.  Brunch is right away and beers with Shawn doth beckon as well.  In two minutes I start the Bloody Mary Backgammon Tournament on FIBS.  It would be nice to win, but losing means I get to participate in all those other things I mentioned a bit sooner than later.

Update: My opponent rolled a 6-2 combination in the first game to get out from behind my 5 point prime and hit.  The odds of getting that exact roll are 1 in 18.  Guess it wasn’t my day for backgammon.  Just as well.

Time to get on with the stuff that really matters.

The Logistics of Being Home and Sociable

I am sitting in my mother’s living room, drinking coffee, and staring out the window.  Just got off the phone with Jamie, and I’m looking at the calendar, figuring out how I’m going to pack so much Regina into a limited number of Christmas and New Year’s type days.  It’s a wonderful problem to have.  So excited to be home.

The drive had its moments.  I75 in Michigan looked like a snow covered back alley – and drove like one too.  60 km/h was the best I could do in some spots.  As a result, after 12 hours of driving, I didn’t get as far down the road as I would have liked.  Spent the night in Marquette, Michigan, which forced me to drive 17 hours yesterday to make it home.  At least the weather was good for that part of the trek.

I brought Phillie with me so I could get some editing done while I’m here.  I figure the pace will be a little slower, but at least I can still earn a pay cheque while visiting.  It basically means that I can extend my stay to January 13th or 14th without feeling the need head back to TO.

There’s also a trip to Vancouver coming up on Dec 28th – which I’ll get into another time. The circumstances surrounding that trip are a colourful tale that deserve an article unto itself.  I will say that there are Vancouver friends whom I may have a brief opportunity to look up while I’m there.  More logistics to plan.  Again – nice problem to have.

My face is itchy from a lack of shaving.  My hair is tangled from too many days behind the wheel.  I have an edit suite to set up.  I have a shower to take.  I have friend dates to make.

It’s good to be home.

Measurements

Simple seems to be working.

I track my hours, chart my progress, and provide myself with simple answers to questions about why I am where I am.  I’m at 33 hours and counting on one particular editing project.  I figure I need another 8 to wrap it up.  It would have been done by now, but I spent those 8 hours on Wednesday taking care of some other business.

I have a simple answer to the question of why I’m not done.  No need to beat myself up for it.  No desire to either.

Tracking my hours seems like a contradiction to my ‘go with the flow’ way of being, but I’m beginning to understand how measuring my time actually helps me flow.  It cuts down on unnecessary guilt.  It allows me to have better expectations for how much I can accomplish in a day.  It keeps me looking forward, where I can do something about the path I’m on, as opposed to looking back and filling my headspace up with regret.

It also allows me to make reasonable plans for Christmas.  I’m hitting the highway on December 21!  Got new tires on my car.  Got some social engagements to make before I leave.  Got a project to complete the moment I finish my current one.

It’s all doable and I’m looking forward to starting my holiday with a clean headspace free of regret.

Essentials

It’s amazing how breaking everything down to the most basic essentials can do a headspace good.  I’ve been beating myself up because I’m not writing as much as I’d like.  Editing is paying the bills these days.

I decided to roll with it.

If I put in 20 days of editing per month, I can earn enough to write for the other 10 days of the month.  In time I can reverse that ratio as I continue to make more of a dent in this town with my writing.

My problem previously was mostly ego related.  I toiled behind my computer believing that I was better than the small corporate projects I was working on.  I’ve put my work on screens around the world.  I should be working on bigger and better things.

Problem is, bigger and better things come with gobs more effort and responsibility.  If I feel like my writing is suffering now, imagine how little I’d get done working towards green-lighting my own documentary & lifestyle projects.

I’m still on the fence to some degree, but I’ll let things settle for now.  In the meantime I’m going to be applying to the CFC’s various writing programs.  I’m going to peck away at my scripted projects.  I’m going to finish my novel.  I’m going to submit my plays to the various theatre companies calling for submissions.  I’m going to continue to reach out to other writing groups and organizations.  I’m going to do what I can, while doing everything I can to keep my days simple.

Picking Up The Phone

When I was sick earlier, all I wanted, was to be a big suck and have someone take care of me – bring me hot soup, warm blankets and tell me how much I was loved.  Instead I felt how big this city really is, how lonely it can be, and how so very far away I am from those who matter most to me.

I have a phone that’s full of numbers.  There’s no one on that list who can bring me hot soup and warm blankets in Toronto when I’m sick.  There’s not really anyone on that list who I can go back with – not like how I can with old friends and family back home.

It’s been just over a year, and this is the first time I ever felt lonely in this amazing city.  Maybe it’s this time of year.  Maybe it’s just that I’m looking in the mirror and I’m seeing someone who is nowhere near where he wanted to be in his career.  All that potential, and nothing much to show for it – not financially anyway.

I have a rule about complaining about life in my blog.  I don’t do it.  Who wants to read that crap?  Still, that’s where I’m living these days.  Maybe admitting that to myself will be good for the headspace.

You don’t go to Wal-Mart and buy old friendships and loved ones.  You need to grow them and nurture them.  I am living in the city I choose to be living in.  Like many artists, I’m struggling to make a dent in this new landscape.  I am my career, and right now my headspace is a reasonable reflection of where I’m at in my career.  I believe in my bones that bigger and better things lie in my future.  No part of me has given up.

I picked up the phone the other day and called a girl whom I met at a party back in August.  We knew each other from Regina.  Walked through the same circles, though we’ve never really been ‘friends’.  Her number’s been in my phone for five months now.  Never called it.  Always felt weird to phone someone like that out of the blue.  But then, what’s the point of having someone’s number if you’re not going to use it?

She answered and didn’t know who I was at first, but after a minute or so, she remembered.  I explained simply that I was calling because I don’t have a lot of people I can call in Toronto.  I cringed as the words left my mouth.  How lame did that sound?  How sad?  Turns out she’s kind of in the same boat.

I phoned someone else on a different day, and someone else after that.  Turns out I’ve accumulated a whole bunch of Toronto phone numbers that I’ve never used.  Friendships aren’t built over night.  Neither are careers.

They just need a bit of nurturing to grow.

Benji and the Torrid Pace

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.  I’m sure you saw my Grey Cup articles so I don’t need to go into much detail about that, but maybe I’ll shed some light on the happenings between the mentionings.

Benji flew in from Regina for the game, and stayed a few extra days.  It was great having him over.  Made the whole experience that much richer.  I was able to snag an extra media pass for him from the Argos.  We took in the Argos’ final walk-through at field level in Rogers Centre.  The pass also got us into a few other events over the course of the next two nights as well.

I enjoyed introducing Benji to my Admiral colleague, Andrew.  Passionate Rider fan meets passionate Argo fan.  Benji didn’t even know there was such a thing.  We spent most of Grey Cup Saturday drinking together while criss-crossing the town.  Later, we got together with Frank for a concert we had access to.  The three of us had a great time together.

Beyond the Grey Cup, it was great to mix a little Regina into my Toronto world.  Once the excitement of Grey Cup Sunday gave way to the fog of Monday morning, I was able to slow the pace down a bit.  Benji and I sat on chairs outside my place and watched the city go by.  We walked the neighbourhood, and took in a French cafe in the Junction that I’ve become fond of.  We took in other neighbourhoods too.

I tried to get a bit of work done while he was here, but that didn’t go so well.  Couldn’t concentrate.  Kept feeling like I was being a bad host, so I decided to take a few extra days off work and just roll with it.  Things were much simpler for my headspace after that.

Benji and I always had an easy time talking to each other, but we never hung out on our own that often.  There was always someone else from the Romanian Syndicate around as well.  On this trip we talked a lot about a lot of different things.  Learned a lot about each other.

I dropped Benji off at the airport on Wednesday night then set my sights on the backlog of work I needed to finish.  Plugged away for a couple hours then turned in for the night.

That’s when things fell off the rails for me.

Woke up Thursday morning with a cold so bad, I nearly fell over when I stood up.  Went right back to bed and stayed there all day.  Just laid there and watched my edit suite not working, letting the guilt wash over me.  The backlog of work I had waiting for me seemed to delight in my frail state.  I was not amused.

It’s now Tuesday, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.  I’m about a half day away from being completely caught up and I’m hoping the torrid pace I’ve been working at these last few days can be maintained right up to Christmas.

It would be nice to go into a holiday ahead of the curve for a change.