Promise

I’m sitting in Balzac’s Coffee Shop in the Distillery District of Toronto.  It’s a hot sunny Wednesday and the city I left three weeks ago, feels much different now.  Leaves are on the trees.  Summer is afoot.  Womenfolk are showing off some skin.  It’s perfectly awesome to be ‘home’.

I had a slow day, unpacking and stowing my stuff from Regina.  All but my art now has a home.  Did a bit of banking, took care of some business emails, and even had time for a good long coffee on the deck with Bacia.  In 20 minutes or so, I’ll be meeting with Alexis, an executive assistant with a production company I pitched to.

I’m adding a new strategy to my networking repertoire.  It’s called ‘Schmoozing the Executive Assistant’.  I picked it up reading a Broadway Producer’s blog called, ‘The Producer’s Perspective’.  He said he’s got a pile of scripts on his desk.  Too many to read in a short period of time, but you know who DOES have time to read scripts?  His assistant.

Not only would she take the time to read a script, but she has HIS ear.  If she tells him to read something, he’ll read it – and he’ll give it a top priority.  His advice to those who want to have their stuff read, is to work that angle.

In other news, the drive home was long, uneventful, but certainly delightful.  I don’t need to say how much I like long drives for my headspace.  Didn’t even mind showing up in Milwaukee to catch a ferry – that turned out to NOT be leaving for a whole day yet.  A shrug of the shoulder and two hours later I was through Chicago’s rush hour traffic and bound for Detroit.  Pulled into Toronto at 1am.

I feel great!  I have everything with me that I need to be me.  I have meetings lined up.  I have a paid photo shoot booked for tomorrow.  I have writing to finish up in all my favourite TO coffee shops.  I have my TO faces, places and things to do, all waiting for me, ready to do.

Being away is good.  Coming back from a long trip is even better.  This summer hath much promise!

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Penultimate Regina Thoughts

I’ve got the car packed with everything that I’ll be taking back to Toronto.

I told mom to get rid of my kitchen stuff.  I have a bin full of old production binders from past Dacian projects.  But for some winter stuff, everything else can disappear and I wouldn’t give it another thought.  Well, there are my fold-up director chairs.  Not quite ready to part with them.

Packed (or soon to be packed) is my art, my hard drives, my salt lick (for tequila)… shit, I need to pack the tequila… my Roughrider stuff, my camping stuff (which can live in the car) and some other bits of odds & ends.

I’m just about done catching up on faces, places, and things I’d like to do.  I also wrote 10 pages of my new sitcom, RedShirts.  The episode is half way done.  One or two more dates with it should give me a full episode.  We’ll see what comes to mind after that.

It’s currently 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.  I have no idea how the day will unfold.  I was hoping to make it out to Strasbourg to see Dad, but no one’s answering the phone.  Mom and Dave are spending the weekend at their campsite in Craven, Shauna’s meeting me for a beer right away, and I’m hoping to get some quality time in with Courtney before hitting the road Monday morning.

I’m not sure when I’ll be back.

Letting Them Know

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.  Torn between being home in Regina and being home in Toronto.  My life isn’t really here in Regina anymore and there’s career stuff that needs addressing in TO.

It’s been six months since I moved and while I’ve done much to further my writing career, I’ve pretty much let my other skills fall by the wayside.  I’ve produced or production managed over $5 million in production in my career.  I’ve directed a ton.  I shoot and I edit.  The Toronto industry knows none of these things about me.  I’ve actually made a point of keeping those details buried.  They say they like to pigeon hole you in TO.  They say they frown upon anyone who isn’t a ‘specialist’.  That was the advice I was given, and it’s the advice I’ve been following.

I’ve since come to realize that nobody is going to hire me for their writing room if I don’t have an agent.  I am making progress towards that goal.  In the meantime, I need to pay my bills and take advantage of the opportunities this city offers.  I decided to start putting myself out there.

A producer friend needs help with a series he’s about to green light.  I sent my resume to other production companies in town too.  I have a lot to offer the production community in TO and it’s about time I let them know that.

Back to the Place that Rhymes with Fun

2,789 kilometres in 25 hours.  Not bad.  The Chicago route is definitely the way to go.  Could have shaved a couple more hours off the trip too, had I NOT chosen to try and cross the border on a Friday morning (90 minutes lost), or hit Chicago at rush hour (another hour).  I did 130-140 km/h most of the way, and it was a super easy drive.  Two to three lanes right up to Fargo, and then it was a nice easy two lane for the last part of the trip.  Spent the night in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and pulled into Regina at 8:30pm.

I really enjoyed the trip.  Logged a few hours driving in complete silence – no radio on.  Lots of time to do nothing but think.  Yoga for the mind.  I thought about people in my life.  I thought about people who are no longer in my life.  I thought about my play.  I thought about my career.  I thought about my mistakes.  I even spent a little bit of time pondering my triumphs, but not too much.

Once I crossed back into Canada, I picked up the phone to chat up old friends.  I was shocked to see that half my contacts list are Toronto folk now.  When did that happen?

Driving through Regina was also different somehow.  I’m used to Toronto’s slow pace.  Driving 5 kms in TO takes awhile, depending on where you’re going, and how you’re getting there.  In Regina, everything is 20 minutes, tops.  Toronto’s drivers are better, patient and more courteous.  It’s the only way to be, or traffic will be fucked up for everyone, everywhere.  In Regina, signalling to change lanes is like giving away your position.  People scramble to take the lane away, or honk if there’s anything less that a 100 yards between you.  Forget about letting someone in, or making a left in front of oncoming traffic.  Cue the horns.  Regina drivers are a completely unreasonable mass of humanity, generally speaking.

It’s good to be home.  I am excited about immersing myself into the festival this week.  I am excited to catch up with old friends.  Mom fed me home-made shepherds pie last night, and home-made beef stew is on the menu tonight.  I’m sitting in Grama’s living room right now.  Sometime soon, I’m going to snag myself a pint of Guinness at O’Hanlon’s.  Hope to see a few familiar faces there too.

Praise Not From My Mom

Here’s an excerpt from someone not named ‘my mom’ about the videos I just completed.

“Congratulations to the 2012 MABA organizing crew. It was an outstanding event and I was very proud to be a now-distant cousin of the MABA family!

Of particular note were the Vignettes which Jarrett did. They were very creative, artistic, funky, very informative and, yet, succinct. Great job! Probably the best vignettes I have seen after several hundred award dinners over my life-time!”

The gentleman writing the email is someone I crossed paths with a couple years back when I did videos for The Red Cross.  His name is Dr. David Miller.

I realize that I’m flirting with blog rule number two here, but given the amount of anxiety I felt putting these videos together, it’s nice to feel appreciated.  Nadia was sitting in the audience in Regina when they played and she texted me, saying it was good to hear my voice again (I narrated the vignettes).

Today has more writing in the cards.  The first three scenes of ‘Dick’ have been scrubbed clean.  Thus far everyone has an interesting, actable objective, and conventions within the play (ie: talking penis/man) have been more clearly defined.  I also split the play into two acts and am in the process of heightening those act climaxes.  I’ve sketched out new scenes and gone deeper into some of the characters’ back story.

Tonight I’m going to The Firkin on King for Ink Drinks.  It’s a monthly event where they pack a bunch of writers in a room together, add booze, and let things happen.  I attended one in November and met some people.  Circumstances haven’t allowed me to make a return until this evening.

My thoughts now turn homewards.  I’m feeling excited about another long road trip.  Gonna go through Chicago this time.  I figure that by staying on the interstates at 130-140 km/h, I’ll save 6 – 8 hours of driving time, even though the trip would be 100 kms longer.  Northern Michigan and Wisconsin are pretty, but as Sammy Hagar puts it so eloquently, “I can’t drive 55!”

Yesterday was special for one other reason as well.  Changed my Saskatchewan phone number to a local Toronto one.

Bye bye ‘306-537-7535’.  Welcome ‘647-567-7535’.

Kind of rolls off the tongue don’t it?  I called my mother last night to say as much.

Neither Here Nor There

Jeff asked me about Skyping into the hockey pool for Thursday night.  I said I was in, and I have a buddy who also might be interested.  He said, “You have a buddy in Toronto? I don’t believe it.”  I told him that it was true, but I had to pay him though – he’s my landlord.

I’m on the fence about driving home and staying for a month in May.  Seems like a good idea.  I have to be there for the Spring Festival of New Plays (Dick is in it).  Three weeks after that I have a small gig if I choose to take it.  I can live in Mom’s basement, and catch up on long lost friends & family.  Camping on May Long Weekend also sounds appealing.  When I go home, I can haul my camping stuff, my art, and some other odds & ends with me.  I’ll also get to show off my spanking new Ontario licence plate (all the cool kids have one).

On the other hand, I’m making a life for myself in Toronto.  Though I can’t think of anything imminent going on, something might come up.

That’s a rather short paragraph there, ain’t it?  Unless something definitive does come up between now and April 27, I’m going to make a month of it.  All the work I’m doing in Toronto right now, can be done from anywhere.

This means I’ll have to get my CFC application together rather quickly.  Gonna have to make sure I get sufficient time in with those I wish to see before I leave.  I need to write another draft of Dick.  Gotta renew my passport too (it expired in January).  I’m also looking to line up meetings with two producers and one writer whom I’ve been playing email tag with.  I think that’s it.

Now I gotta make Orthodox Easter plans.

The Talk

I’m sitting in the window of Atlantis.  Been awhile since I’ve been able to say that.  It’s good to be home.  In fifteen minutes I have a meeting with Richard from YBCS… or is it 45 minutes?  I checked my calendar and nothing’s written down.

Thus far it’s been like a family reunion in here.  Saw Johanna and talked to her for a spell.  The behind-the-counter people are still the same, and two seats down is Eric.

I did a shoot with Jenny this morning.  She’s my favourite client.  She’s also Romanian.  She had this thing she scripted together and we shot it for a spell, but it kept coming off wooden and well… ‘scripted’.  I suggested we just set up somewhere and I’ll ask her questions about her business.  Instantly, she came to life on camera.  Her voice had colour.  Her personality filled the frame.  She was happy with the results.

Last night I hung out with Robyn.  We made mashed potatoes together.  Sounds like a metaphor for something naughty, but it isn’t.  I was sitting on her couch and she was literally struck with the urgent need to make mashed potatoes.  I like a little weird with my friendships.

I can feel Toronto seeping into me a little bit deeper.  I’m beginning to notice the smallness of Regina.  Downtown seems a little bland this time of year.  People here are in the habit of staying inside, due to the cold.

I don’t like feeling this way.  It’s like I just noticed I’m not as much into my girlfriend as I used to be.  I do think the people here are among the best you’ll ever meet — except for the ones who aren’t.  We have the religion known as Rider Pride.  We have sunsets like you ain’t never seen.  Long drives and the smell of harvest in late August.  Grama’s cabbage rolls.  Friends, family, and running into faces you know from somewhere randomly in coffee shops.

Oh Regina… I think we need to have ‘the talk’.

Switching the Rooms Around

I’m about a hundred kilometres from Calgary, descending through 25,000 feet, nearly four hours into this plane ride.  I’m on my way home for a few days.

There’s something about traveling that focuses the mind.  With clarity, I can see my two most immediate objectives.  Green light ‘Highwaymen’.  Get ‘Hog Town’ into development.  To this end, I plan to finish the next episode and write the third before I leave Regina. Three episodes gets ‘Hog Town’ ready for market.

With the rest of my time, I intend to take Roughriders GM, Brendan Taman up on his offer to drop by and soak up the place.  Need to collect some football stories.  Need to get a feel for the place.  It’s been a few years, and I wasn’t paying as close attention last time I walked those halls.

By the time I return, I hope to have a date set for my TSN meeting.  CFL congress is in Toronto at the end of the month, and with a little luck, I’ll be able to soak that up too.

Can you imagine?  Two scripted series.  Me.  I came to Toronto to get myself into someone else’s writing room.  I’m starting to believe that I can start hiring people into mine.

Whole Lotta Nothin’

Two long 13+ hour days resulted in me arriving safely in Toronto at midnight last night.

I wasn’t in the best of shape.  My eyes were no longer seeing straight, I had the chills, and was shivering uncontrollably.  Baaaaad cold.  Today I’m slightly better, but still far from healthy.  I’ve taken all kinds of medication and don’t seem to be better off for it.  At least I’m home.

I’m not really keen to do much today.  Aside from sending some important emails, I’ve pretty much done nothing thus far.  I don’t really want to be around people given my health situation, and I don’t really have the energy to start big projects.

Gotta do something though.  I’m pretty damned bored.  I’m writing from a place called The Beet, an organic coffee house on Dundas West in The Junction.  From here I’ll wander a little further down the street to see what I can see.

Admittedly, this isn’t the best way to start the year in my new city.  I’ll get back into the swing of things though.  Even last time, I took a couple days to myself before diving into everything Toronto had to offer.

I’ve got a couple of important meetings to line up for Highwaymen.  I have a video to finish for YBCS.  I have some deliverables to deliver for CBC.  That’s enough to keep me busy for a day or so.  After that, it will be back to the mission.  Meet as many people as I can, and see where that takes me.

There’s also the business of my birthday on Thursday.  I’ll need to figure out what I’m doing for that.  Hopefully my health will be back to normal as well.

Home

I am home.

A snow storm in Michigan forced Leach and I to stop for the night in the Northern Peninsula, about 3 hours and 500 kms short of where I wanted to be.  We were doing 40km/h on the the highway before my nerves gave way.  This forced me to pull into Regina at 2am after an 18 hour marathon drive, the next day (also known as Friday night).  Rang Mom’s doorbell and surprised her.  My eyes could barely see straight.

It’s a fitting metaphor for my year.  2011 saw a lot of movement in my life, in a very short period of time.  I know because I marathon read 58,511 words of my blog over the course of the weekend.  That exercise also left me a little bleary eyed, but at least now I can get on with publishing the book of me, volume three project.

The year started with much optimism, but descended towards the depths of despair.  It was the single hardest year of my life.  I just about gave up on myself, before seeing the light!

“Leap and the net will catch you.”

I mused about that phrase in April, forgot about it by May, then actually did it in November.  I sit here now at this table in O’Hanlon’s, and I can very clearly see where I need to be, and how to get there.  No bleary eyes on this journey.

It’s good to be home and to see old faces, places, and dreams.  As Regina’s lights came up over the horizon on Friday night, I felt my heart pound.  I’ve come so far this year.  I have a ways to go, but at least now I can feel the wind at my back.