The Gift of Waking Up in the Morning

2013-06-16 15.11.40Last Thursday was Papa’s funeral. It was held in Windsor, which meant that Jazzy and I could be a part of the family gathering – which coincided with Thanksgiving. Mom, Grama and Dave flew in, and we joined Papa’s family around the table for a grim reunion.

Papa was 97 years old. Though he started in Saskatchewan, he moved to Ontario as a young man, and made a life for himself there. He has been laid to rest in the same place where his first wife Kay was buried in 1975. He was surrounded by his family.

Grama and Papa were married eleven years ago. They both knew their time together would be limited, and they saw each day they woke up together as a gift. If only we all could share that perspective.

My most vivid moment of the funeral was at the cemetery, where Grama stood apart from the rest of the family, next to Papa’s coffin. She wept uncontrollably with Jazzy at her side, their arms wrapped around each other. I was so proud of my daughter for being such a loving and supportive granddaughter.

Grama came home with Jazzy and I afterwards. She flies home tomorrow, and it’s likely she’ll never be back to Toronto again. We’ve been making the most of our time together. On Saturday we all went to the Argos’ game together at Rogers Centre. Not only did Grama enjoy the game, but she was also excited about the train ride to and from the stadium as well.

I am pleased to say that for a woman of 89 years, she’s really quite spry. We’ve walked a ton all over the city. We took the subway downtown on Sunday, so Jazzy could show Grama the church she attends. Afterwards Grama bought us our Christmas presents at Eaton’s Centre. That night they came to the Toronto Cold Reads with me, to watch the reading of my script.

Grama and I have walked around my neighbourhood. We’ve had many conversations over coffee. She’s read two of my scripts. Last night Aubree stopped by and we all played Canasta – Grama and I, verses Jazzy and Aubree. Tonight I have people coming over for a backyard campfire.

It’s been years since I’ve spent this much time with her. Jazzy and I are both blessed. Each day has indeed been a gift.

When Inspiration Strikes at the Wrong Time

Yesterday felt like a pretty good day. Act II of Machiavelli & Tymes is complete. The scene I wrote was one I’d been looking forward to penning for a long time, and I finally got my chance to breathe life into it. It was inspired by a couple of conversations I had with Jazzy a few months ago, so I guess there was a bit of a personal attachment to it as well.

Upon completion, I was immediately struck with the notion that I need to rethink my plan for Act III. As it stands right now, it’s rather epic, full of action. It feels more like I should be building towards a sequence like that, rather than jumping right in, only to taper off, then build to something similar for Act IV, all over again. Lumpy structure.

I think that by rejiggering my structure to crescendo into an epic action sequence for Act IV, the action itself will take on more meaning. The stakes will feel higher. And then with the surprise twist at the end, will pay off better.

So all I have to do, is give the whole thing a good long think – which I am – which is problematic at the moment because I’m supposed to be thinking about my short for the Toronto Cold Reads Series. Every time I set about to developing that story idea, Machiavelli & Tymes creeps in. I want to drop everything and start noodling with Act III. I really do. Completely inspired – which is an incredibly hard stage to get to as a writer – and one that should not easily be dismissed.

But I have to. I need to deliver a different script in 5 days. And as inspired as I am by M&T, this new script feels like a lot of work. I think about it, and I like the idea, but there’s a big piece of it that I just can’t figure out – and so I’m left with pushing this idea uphill, hoping inspiration will strike soon.

And I’m pushing.

And pushing.

And the only good ideas bubbling up to the surface, are ones for M&T.

So today will be about packing a lunch, and drilling into this new idea in a workmanlike fashion. Methinks I’ll just have to start with two characters, who have two strong objectives, and a single problem to overcome, with other people getting in their way.

Let’s see what comes of it.

An Itemized List of Vocational & Non-Vocational Commitments – Including a Date With a Razor

And suddenly I’m so busy, I can’t keep my thoughts straight. Please allow me the space for a bit of mental inventory.

1. I spent the past week shooting a project for a client. It’s quietly become the biggest client-based job I’ve taken in Toronto, in terms of workload. I’m looking at several days of editing ahead of me. Methinks a date with a coffee shop will be in my immediate future.

2. I have a sponsorship commitment to the Chocolate Ball to attend to. A few hours in the evening should be sufficient to complete that task. I’m thinking this evening would work best.

3. I have a writing commitment to the Toronto Cold Reads series. I’ve been asked to write a ten page script for a special event they’re having next Sunday. That gives me 8 days to put something together. I have the idea, but the details remain vague.

4. I made a commitment to myself, to finish Act II of Machiavelli & Tymes. I have one scene left. Might as well put that on today’s slate.

5. On Wednesday I’m working as a Daily on Reign. I’m looking forward to that because the 1st AD is Felix Gray, who was my first boss when I started working on sets in Regina, at the beginning of my career.

6. I just got off the phone with Mom. Everyone will be in Windsor on Sunday night for Thanksgiving. I’ll save the circumstances for another article.

7. I have meetings on Tuesday – which meets completing the prep for those meetings sometime this weekend.

8. My head hurts. I drank too much beer at the Argos’ thrilling 34-33 win over the Ti-Cats last night at Rogers Centre.

9. My face is itchy. I haven’t shaved in over a week. I think I have a date with a razor, prior to my date with a coffee shop today.

A Sunny Disposition From Yorkville

It’s a warm sunny Friday in Toronto at the moment. I’m sitting in a Starbucks in Yorkville. I found out my meeting this morning was cancelled, after I arrived, but I didn’t mind so much. What’s better than getting out of the house, drinking coffee, tapping in my blog, and watching people come and go?

On Wednesday I worked 17.5 hours on the set of Lost Girl. It was the final day of production for the series’ finale. Tears. Speeches. Gifts. Booze. Weariness. I felt lucky to be there, even though I was more of an interloper and everyone else was part of a family, five years in the making. I did manage to make friends with Karen, their continuity person. She was gifted a ‘Lost Girl’ canvas backpack that she had no use for. When I mentioned Jazzy’s love of the series, Karen gave me the backpack to give to her. I was shocked, but Karen insisted.

I was tired when I got home. My head hit the pillow at 5am, and I had meetings scheduled the next day, starting at 11am.

I heard Jazzy stirring around 8:30am and jumped out of bed. She gave me the biggest hug in the world when I showed her the backpack. It was such an incredible pleasure to see the joy in her eyes at having such a rare treasure. Perhaps that exchange fuelled me throughout the rest of the day, because I functioned rather well on three hours sleep.

My first meeting went swimmingly. Another commercial production company expressed a desire to work with me on their low budget projects. They liked my producing/PMing/ADing experience. They felt they needed someone who could wear a lot of hats.

My second meeting at 12:15 in Liberty Village also went well. I was given some great advice on the commercial industry. This may also lead to more work down the road. The guy even paid for my coffee & muffin afterwards.

In other news, I’m about four pages into Act II of Machiavelli & Tymes. I have a road map for where the story is going, but there’s enough wiggle room there for my characters to take that map, and figure out for themselves how they’ll complete the journey. They keep surprising me with what they come up with – which sounds crazy, but smells like something that will hold up under the scrutiny of my writers group. My goal is to finish Act II by Sunday night.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Time to get on with my day.