The Clarity of Seeing Less on My Plate

And now I have clarity.

One day after turning the Pyramid of Basic Needs upside down, I was offered a position on Transporter. It’s a week-long stint as a trainee production accountant, and if they like me, they’re going to keep me to the end of the run (mid August). I also have an interview coming up for another series, which would start just as my current series would be wrapping.

I’ve sent out hundreds of emails, and set up dozens of meetings since rejoining the Guild at the beginning of June. I finally landed the opportunity I’ve been clawing for – and the only niggly thing hanging over my headspace was the question of my acceptance into the Canadian Film Centre. What would I do if they let me in?

Fortunately the answer came only a few hours after landing the Transporter gig. No dice. I’ve been passed over for the third straight year, and this time, I couldn’t be happier. With a single minded sense of purpose, I can set about turning this production accounting opportunity into the next phase of my career. All I have to do is be great at my job, and the machine will push me up the ladder.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop writing. Not by a long shot. But now I can focus like never before. I have two things to worry about, instead of twelve. I no longer have to feel like I’m sitting at home, working in a call centre as I tax my phone, and send my emails, looking to line up meetings, clients, and opportunities. I planted those seeds. Now it’s time to reap them.

And this feels incredible.

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Upside-down Shit-Goggled Pyramids

There’s a pyramid of basic needs that I’m vaguely aware of. Food, water, and shelter are at the bottom, fruits, salads, Roughrider season tickets, love, happiness, great music, women, beer and art are closer to the top.

Probably I should google it, if I’m going to write about it, but too late.

My headspace was in an awful place yesterday, when Renee phoned me for a chat. She sensed I was off my game and decided to check in. I felt vulnerable and embarrassed as I began to rattle off the list of things that have been eating at me.

We spoke for nearly an hour – which is some kind of record for me. Phone calls are for making plans and networking. I never use one for conversation with a friend (unless that friend is 2,000 miles away). By the end of the call, I felt like a great weight had been lifted.

The pyramid of basic needs came up in our conversation. Renee suggested that perhaps we ought to be turning that pyramid upside down. Sometimes we get so focused on worrying about things at the bottom, we forget about the things at the top – the things that define us, fulfill us, and give us a reason for living.

She told me to finish my script because writing is what fuels my spirit more than anything else. Address the basics, but live closer to the ‘Jarrett’ things in my life. If I can do that, those basic things will take care of themselves.

There’s a world out there that’s great big and full of possibilities. We can look at it with rose coloured glasses, and gloss over the problems that exist, or we can don a pair of shit coloured glasses, and fail to see the light. Somewhere in-between is the healthy place methinks.

Love and gratitude to my dear friend. I feel great today.

A Perfectly Timed Phone Call

Dad has been on my mind a lot lately. Nearly everyday I see something, or think something that reminds me of him. I look in the mirror and I see him. I think about me, raising Jazzy alone in Toronto, and I’m reminded of him, raising me during those very hard years in Regina.

Mostly I feel cheated. Never got to say goodbye because we were too pissed off at each other. I called three times after we last spoke to each other in anger, but he thought he had enough time to punish me with the silent treatment before he expired.

Why is all this bubbling to the surface now?

When he was alive, we would go a couple months between phone calls. It was our way. He was always available to me, but never at the top of my mind. I just had to pick up the phone and leave a message.

I think about him and I feel a rotten knot in my stomach. Never in my life have I felt something so ugly and vile, that I couldn’t freely speak about it to anyone. Now, the topic comes up and I am so overwhelmed with broken thoughts that I have to eject myself from the conversation, lest I feel something I don’t want to touch.

That’s what I’m carrying around inside me right now, and I don’t know how to shed it.

Dad died a bitter and crusty old man. So many people shit on him, and so many things were taken from him, that he could no longer see the light. He hurt many people with his words and deeds over the years, but he was also capable of so much selfless love.

The light and the darkness swirled inside him – and in the end the darkness won.

I look in the mirror and sometimes I don’t like what I see. And sometimes I don’t even care. And mostly I struggle to be the light, because that’s who I want to be.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a million miles away from everyone I care about because that’s the reality of living in a new city with no long-time friends or family around. I imagine I’m not alone with this struggle. Six million people crammed into such a small space, a large number of whom coming from some other far away place.

I looked at my phone on Saturday night, and I was going to send Nadia a text. “Come to Toronto for a visit. I miss you.” But I quickly dismissed the idea. A passing half joking, half truthful wish. Then a phone call on Sunday night.

“Hey Jarrett! It’s Nadia. I’m in town. Let’s have supper!” She was on a business trip and was held over in Toronto.

And sometimes the world ain’t so big after all.

Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be alright.

Into the Machine

Shooting in Hamilton

Shooting in Hamilton

Sorry for the time between postings, I’ve been in movie jail.

Fourteen hour days, plus travel time to and from locations over 70 Kms out of town. It’s a bit like working on a submarine where your only human contact for days on end is your fellow crew. They feed you all day long, and all day long they keep you on your toes.

The filmmaking machine moves at a slow, steady, and relentless pace. We all feed it with our sweat, and expertise, and well-honed skills. Sometimes it feels like running a marathon in slow motion, with no opportunity to stop. Ever. The machine demands your constant attention and forgives no oversight.

There’s no other job like it in the world, and it feels great to be getting out of the house, and spending a hellova lot less time with myself. I’m enjoying the opportunity and I finally feel like I’m a more tangible part of the industry out here.

I’m enjoying the people I work with. I’m learning a lot while at the same time, practicing the lessons learned over the course of my career. I really feel like I’m contributing to something, while at the same time, taking from the machine, the things I need to climb the ladder, so that I could contribute even more, while taking even more.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with Torrey DeVitto. We developed a nice rapport over the course of this latest production. She kept asking me questions about Jazzy, and when I told her that Jazz is a voracious reader – that Pretty Little Liars is one of the books she’s read before – Torrey asked if she could do something special for her. The result is below.

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