Old Neighbourhood

My last night in Bucharest last year, I grabbed an Ursus out of the fridge in my apartment and went for a walk.  I found an old residential neighbourhood.  Nothing remarkable about the architecture.  Very different from home.  Kind of dusty.  Kind of a work in progress.  Real people lived there.  It was a memorable experience because it was just me and the city walking together.

Something about my new neighbourhood reminded me of that old neighbourhood in Bucharest.  Not sure why.  I’ll take the positive vibes from it nonetheless.

Pulled in at 6:48pm and parked in front my new address.  Turned the key to silence the engine and just sat there for a moment.  This is my new city.  Now what?

I knocked on the door and met Frankie, my landlord.  Found Megan in her room.  Saw my room.  Needed to pee.  Almost forgot to hug her hello.

My room is smallish, but I like it.  Two other people are living in the same space (we each have our own room).  We have a large bathroom and a kitchen.  No living room.  Just as well.  It is my intention to be living out amongst the city, not cooped up in my room.

The landlord is Italian.  Megan said his mom occasionally cooks authentic Italian meals for the residents.  The neighbourhood itself is Portuguese.  In the bar last night while watching the Rider game, I heard three languages being spoken.  Our server was a Saskatchewan girl from a small town outside Saskatoon.

This morning I woke up and took my time getting myself ready.  Long hot shower.  Unpacked my clothes and kitchen stuff.  Changed Sweeney’s clock to local time.  The rest of the computer stuff can wait.  Frankie and I still have to meet later to sign the lease.  He said I could park my car in a space behind the building until I get my street permit.

In the meantime, I’ve been walking around the neighbourhood.  Found a TD Bank in a mall on Dupont and took care of some business.  Went for a wander down Symington Ave and found a cafe called ‘Angel’s’.  Decided this would be a good place to write.

I’m not in a hurry to hook up with my Toronto friends just yet.  Me and this new city need some time alone together.  I live here now.  I really live here.

How ‘bout that?

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The Place Between

It’s a bright sunny Wednesday morning.  The car is packed and in a couple hours I’l be on the highway, bound for Toronto.  Wow.

It’s been a great run.  Thank you Regina.  The last three weeks have been packed with the faces of loved ones as I prepared for this journey.  My last night in the city was spent with Courtney.  What an incredibly moving way to end my time here.

I’m sitting in Atlantis as I type this.  Just couldn’t leave without one more sit for a bit of time with my blog.  Funny though… as profound as this day is, I just don’t have that much to say about it.

This is the place between where I was, and where I am going.  The moment is fleeting, and holding onto it for very much longer is futile.  Let’s see what I have to say tomorrow about it.

Not Knowing Where to Go

Jazzy had a bit on an adventure changing planes in Edmonton on Monday.  She only had 10 minutes between flights, but followed the signs wrong and wound up having to go through security again.  They were calling her name over the intercom and wound up holding the plane for her.

She was excited, jumping up and down, as she told the story to PJ upon landing in Vancouver.  You’d think she just came off an amusement ride.  My 12 year old little girl has a keen embrace for adventure in the most unconventional of places.

I finally glimpsed the big picture for momMe.  It’s been an evolution.  When we started out, we weren’t even thinking about it as a business enterprise.  Then the Canadian Media Fund required all applicants to provide a way to monetize their projects.  The game took another massive shift forward.  Still, even though we could see its potential to be a money maker, we still weren’t clear on the business model.  It remained that way until meeting with Brooks a couple times this past week.

I came in looking for advice.  Didn’t know what I needed.  The potential was huge.  Wasn’t really sure how to move forward.  He asked some pointed questions.  I gave direct answers, even if those answers were simply, ‘I don’t know.’

I walked away from those meetings with all the ‘I don’t knows’ pecking away at my mind.  It wasn’t until I put the finishing touches on a cash flow projection yesterday that I saw everything in perfect clarity.  There remain a few ‘I don’t knows’, but the fog has lifted.  I can see a number of ways forward.  Doesn’t matter if our seed money comes through traditional television sources, or we go the venture cap route… the production funding is irrelevant.  We need someone who is experienced and successful at getting passed the professional gate keepers of corporate boardrooms, to make meetings happen.

Finding that person is our single greatest need.

Connections

Jazzy and her friend Kayla are roaming the downtown streets of Regina this morning.  They met me in Atlantis an hour ago and hit me up for some money.  One bought a medium hot chocolate, the other a cappuccino.  Did I mention they’re 12 years old?

Jazzy handled the airport quite well.  She got off the plane in Calgary and found a place to piss.  Priorities.  She then noticed there was no gate number printed on her boarding pass, so she went looking for the monitors.  At this point she realized that she couldn’t read the monitors because she forgot her glasses at home.  No worries.  She wandered around until she found a set of monitors that were closer to her eye level so she could read them.  From there she went to Starbucks, got herself a treat, found her gate and did homework until her plane boarded.

I took her to yoga last night.  There was lots of meditation this time around.  Jazzy quite enjoyed it and wants to come back next week.  Afterwards she fell into her own conversations with some of the other yogis.  They were all quite impressed with her.  Needless to say, I’m a proud proud dad.

I had a few revelations last night during our meditations.  I’ve been struggling, as everyone does, seeking to find balance between all parts of my life.  Everything just kind of clicked.  Saw a truth I always knew was there, but hadn’t really looked at before.

I am my career.  You can’t take the filmmaker, out of me.  I am not driven by money or material possessions.  Quite simply, my purpose is to create.  Period.  So long as I am doing everything to nurture my career, every other aspect of my life will fall into place.  Love, ambition, money, esteem, spirituality, relationships, friendships, mashed potatoes… all of it comes out of me being me, at my very best.

The sun is out.  The day is bright.  My little girl is home.  Life is good.

The Journey of 12 Years and Counting

I just said the words out loud, “The calculator on my iPhone is cool!”  Yes, that was an exclamation mark.  Even more hilarious was the fact that the guy I was talking to not only agreed with me, but went on to say that he has 3 different calculator applications on his iPad.

We’re both single and available.

I talked to PJ this morning.  Big ordeal getting Jazzy on the plane.  She forgot her carry-on at home.  This will also be the first time she travels on a connecting flight.  They’ll be a one-hour layover in Calgary.  She’ll have just enough time to exit one plane, find a snack, check the monitors, and figure out her departure gate to board another.  I talked her through everything and she seems pretty confident.  She’s been on enough planes and airports that she should be familiar with the environment at least.  The only new snag will be hanging out in Calgary by herself for an hour.

I just realized that this journey marks the first time ever that she’ll be completely on her own.  12-year old Jazzy will have no parents, no friends, no other family, or paid attendants to help her… no one but her and her wits to get from one city to another, via yet another.  I’ll find out in an hour how she did.

Did I ever mention what my present will be on her 18th birthday?

Bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a plane ticket to anywhere.  There’s no education like the sort you receive seeing a foreign country through the eyes of a local.  Just as everything PJ and I have done for her as parents, have been about teaching her self confidence, esteem, and worth, so she can make it through high school, so too shall all these mini-trips across Canada be for that eventual journey.

Will Catch You

I’m sitting at a table in The Forks Market in Winnipeg.  It’s a cornucopia of foods, shops and other boutiques.  There’s a busker over there playing a mandolin and a 2-year-old is captivated by him.

They call it ‘The Forks’ because it’s the place where two rivers meet, The Assiniboine and The Red.  Both are waaaay higher than normal this spring.  They’ve been sandbagging around the clock for a couple days now.  Big call for volunteers.  Wish I would have brought grubby clothes with me.

I interviewed two remarkable human beings thus far.  Amanda is a twenty-something volunteer who started her own NGO.  Together with her partner, they raised enough money to build a school in East Africa ($7,500).  Went over there, hired local contractors, made sure every dollar made its way into the local economy.  None of it was gobbled up in admin costs.  She didn’t even pay herself.  Her next project is a community home to shelter homeless children in that same country.

Sister Leslie took over a building in downtown Winnipeg that has become home to Cocaine Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other addictions groups.  It’s a warm place for the city’s cold to come in an sit in the quiet, stay, pray, think, or heal.  It’s a place for convicts to come to when they’re looking for ways to integrate back into society.  It’s a place where women of all faiths, from all over the world may come to live while they get back on their feet again.

Between the two of them, countless lives have been touched in a positive way.  I still have two interviews to go.

On the drive up my mind had a good opportunity to wander.  I think I’m close to figuring out something that I’ve been looking for.  Don’t exactly have words for it.  Clarity maybe.  Love?  I’m not sure.  It’s a fine line between looking for what’s missing and letting it come find you.  Seems the later is better.

56,000 people have walked through the House of Peace.  Sister Leslie said she never set out to do something great.  There was no plan.  No money.  She didn’t even know how the space could be used.  All she knew is that building was destined to be a parking lot if she didn’t move in.

She told me about a Zen expression she’s fond of.  “If you leap, the net will catch you.”

Half Hour’s Worth of Musings in O’Hanlon’s

I’m sitting in O’hanlon’s, and I’m about to start blogging about leaving for Winnipeg in the morning.  But not yet… err the leaving for Winnipeg part.  I most definitely am inside O’Hanlon’s.

I haven’t eaten since lunch and the top quarter of this pint of Keith’s is already having an affect on me.  After a few more sips, I suspect my writing will appear brilliant due to the beer goggles effect.

[sip]

A facebook friend posted a rant from Hunter S. Thompson, who phoned into an AV dealer, looking for some molification on his home theatre situation.  What a self important asshole!  I’ve never read anything by Mr. Thompson, but I want to because everyone one else who’s cool has read him.  I desperately want to be cool.

[sip]

Fuckit!  Ain’t gonna fix my typos.  You may have noticed one in that last paragraph.  I LEFT IT THERE ON PURPOSE!!!!  Us brilliant writing types don’t apologize for our fuckups, cuz they’re part of our art.

[sip]

It occured to me that I should mention the time.  8:31pm.  Exactly eight hours since I put something dead in my mouth and swallowed it.

So as I mentioned before, I leave for Winnipeg in the morning.  Doing a shoot for the Red Cross.  In addition to a modest fee, they’re paying all my travel expenses.  I’m looking forward to the road trip.  It’s a goodish thing for my headspace.

[sip]

On the drive over here, I was listening to an interview by Robbie Robertson.  He was talking about how humbled and honoured he was to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.  You may never have heard of him, but you certainly have heard his music.  Google him.  I’ll buy you a beer sometime if you still can’t place him.

Anyhoo… he’s talking about how song writing remains a mystery to him.  He only writes when he really feels it, and then it comes from some place inside of him that he didn’t know existed.  It’s like he channelled something and nothing gives him more pleasure.

I feel the same way about my writing.  I’ve been there, when the ideas come faster than I can type.  Characters take over the story and all my plans for them get thrown out the window cause they said so.

[sip]

So I started to contrast Mr. Robertson and Mr. Thompson in my head (cuz where else am I gonna do it?).

[sip]

Oh yeah… I forgot to mention in an earlier blog post that I volunteered to take over hosting duties for the Vertigo Reading Series.  It’s the same series I read my play in a couple Sundays ago.  I have big ideas and I want to turn it into something that’s more of a nurturing environment where writers can come and try out stuff, maybe learn from those who are further along in their careers, or perhaps even find a publisher for their work.  It would also be cool to have a guitar player there.

[sip]

So… the Robertson/Thompson thing in my head…. one comes off like an asshole and one comes off as someone really super cool.

[sip]

A band is setting up, getting ready to perform in a couple hours.  Don’t think I’ll stick around though.  Gotta pack.  Also, battery is about to die.

I would now like to get back to the profound contrast between Hunter S. Thompson and Robbie Robertson.

[minutes pass]

[sip]

Okay.  So one’s an asshole and one’s not.  Some things don’t require a lot of deep introspection.

[sip]

[sip]

[sip]

Where It Fits

I am home.

Picked up my keys to the new apartment today and wandered around the empty space trying to figure out how best to use it.  I decided that my edit suite would live in the living room, and the rest of my office would fit inside the spare bedroom.  My living room furniture in its current arrangement, would fit almost exactly the same way in the new space.  Just gotta make sure it doesn’t feel too cramped.  Theoretically, I think I found the handle.

Friends are lined up to help with the move on Sunday.  Haven’t even started packing yet.  Nothing like a hard deadline to motivate oneself.  Rented a cube van, and I even figured out the order in which to move things in.  Also took care of some odds & ends, and now I feel like I’m ready to stop thinking, and start muscling.

Toronto was as great as Washington.  I remember how nervous I felt when I booked the trip.  It seemed like the right thing to do, but the hit to my cash flow would be profound.  The decision proved not only correct, but beyond my wildest expectations successful.  More than ever before, I feel I’m on the right track.  Been saying that all along, but maybe just being ‘out there’ in the market place on a regular basis is the trick.  Thinking happy thoughts on an island somewhere can be a lonely place.

Setting up my new office in my new apartment with projects blossoming, ready to green light at any moment… it’s the ultimate clear beginning and ending.

Being NOT Lame

It occurred to me that I’m happiest when I’m sitting in the window of a coffee shop somewhere and my nose is buried in my laptop.  Doesn’t matter where I am, or what city, or how far I’ve travelled.  Coffee shop.  Laptop.  Muse.

Then it occurred to me that I might be lame.  Travelling to all these places, seeing two oceans, putting on a kazillion miles and all I’m doing is living inside the walls of a million different coffee shops…  It’s like eating at McDonald’s in Chinatown, or buying your music from Wal-Mart in Nashville, or some other third thing that’s lame in a completely NOT lame place.

I’m writing this while sitting in the window of a coffee shop in Toronto by the way.

I suppose I am doing other things.  I watched ‘The Green Hornet’ in 3D on Friday night (alone).  I also hung out with three different friends, in three different parts of the city thus far.  Took public transportation to get around and walked everywhere else.  An hour ago I concluded a positive meeting with CBC.

Not only that, but I have been writing in pubs too.

Business is good, and my new office is the world’s drinking establishments.  I suppose I could be doing worse.  My next meeting is at a place called, ‘Friar the Firkin’ with Bravo.  Don’t even know where that is, but finding it and figuring out how to get there is half the fun.

Being Sill(y)

“I am sitting in the window of a coffee shop.”

How many blog articles have I started that way?  Countless.  Well… countless in the sense that I haven’t counted.  Still, there’s been more than a handful.  Today is special.  I literally am sitting in the window of a coffee shop… as in the window sill.  It’s about 3′ wide and has a great view of Young Street.  It has officially become my favourite place to drink coffee in Toronto.  All it needs is a friend to drink with.  We could just sit in the sill, facing each other.  There’s enough room for three (or four if you’re very good friends).

Superbowl starts in about three hours.  I’ll probably watch a bit of it in a pub I passed on the way here.  50 cent wings.  After that I’ve made plans for the evening.

Last night I dusted off the Cuba proposal and spent several hours re-writing it in a pub on Young Street (a different pub).  Kind of strange trying to write when there’s a UFC crowd about.  I didn’t quite fit in.  Didn’t mind so much, they still made me feel welcome.

This morning I met Kaitlyn in Dundas Square.  She’s another actor friend whom I’ve worked and studied with extensively.  She was also the ‘face’ of my crime series (while Kate was the ‘voice’).  Coincidentally, her and Kate grew up together.  She’s back in Toronto auditioning and looking to continue her acting career.  She’s what they call a ‘triple threat’ (sing, act, dance).  She’s got a real fire under her butt.  Been featured on national television, and she’s got business smarts too.

We fell into an idea to produce a show together, featuring her as a solo performer.  It’ll be a throwback to the prohibition era.  She’ll sing old Jazz tunes from the era and I’ll write bits for her to do between the songs… craft some sort of a story arc through it.  Something along the lines of ‘what you see isn’t necessarily real’.  Beer served in coffee cups, compliments served as daggers, ambitions served as insecurity, etc.  Could be a powerful show, especially if we can get the audience to participate.

The only thing that would make this window sill better is a power outlet.  Battery appears to be about spent.  One minute of power left.  Can that be real?  Best save this and check out.