A Much Needed Rest

Its been almost two months since my last post. I just couldn’t think of anything to say, which in some cases is a good thing. Sometimes, you just need to break from things for a while, step back and readjust. See things from farther out.

Aside from side jobs here and there, the hiatus has been great. The career path is slowing being built, one brick at a time, making other things easier to deal with.  Like the fact I crossed my six month deadline from The Before and while my strength is up, the fat is still there. I didn’t hold to any workout for long. What got me stronger was working movies. Lifting heavy cases everyday, 5 days a week and eating fresh food during lunch had me looking better. It was afterwards. It was staying at home and not doing much, and the beer drinking, that got me back up to my starting weight six months ago. Things happen.

Speaking of, I am getting more work calls than ever. My name is finally spreading around and reputation increasing. The hours and the shit someone has to go through to finally get a bit higher than before can be depressing, but you just have to stay strong. Stay with it. Take every hit and get back up. If you’re going to quit, realize that means its over. You tried, you failed, you can’t go back. Not the way you’re thinking now. That was my problem when I first started years ago and when I returned in 2011. I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t thinking ahead. There were so many things on my mind I felt totally overwhelmed and defeated. Now, after struggling, and a much needed rest, the world isn’t so heavy. My mind isn’t so fogged up with a million things that don’t matter. Focus and drive are in. Good things await.

Lose Yourself

____

You can hang on to dreams. You can bring up the past, the future or the what ifs of times gone wrong. You can sign up to an ideology, pray and protest for a better world that your lizard mind knows won’t happen. You can cry and wait and wait and wait for the saving grace of charity or just freeze yourself in place until the world goes dark.

Or you can move and make it happen.

I’m still living with my parents. I used to be on my own. I was on my own for a long time. No government help, no money sent through desperate phone calls to ma and pa. I held my own. Then my world was torn apart. My pride was destroyed. My ego broken. The very deep darkness exploded and coated my every action. I had debt and I added to it constantly with binge drinking, fast food and impulse buying. Layer upon layer of security and self-medication. Still, now and again, I slip into that dark world. Angry, lost and happy to break the bank for a night’s worth of numbness.

But that won’t get me where I want to be.

I use my skills. I can talk and attract women. Does it always go right? No. It never will. Sometimes I forget that. I hate when I miss things I think I deserve. A girl that caught my fancy who’s got a boyfriend. A “good job” when I just get more work piled on. Its what makes people snap.

99% of the time no one gets what they want.

Yet, at the darkest times, the flicker of light is there. The dream you can reach. It won’t be easy, it won’t be pretty, but the struggle will take you there. I recently bought myself a camera that shoots HD video. I haven’t owned camera nor shot my own stuff since 2007. I’ve been floating for years, now landing on solid ground, ready to put myself back out there, be creative and show my work to the world.

There is no happy, magic ending to your desires, whatever they may be. Once you get them, you will have to keep moving, fighting, being. But this is our way of living beyond what we’re told to be. I am still living with my parents, a kind, caring cage of the soul, and it can depress even the best excitement. It is only a step among many, and soon, those steps will take me out the door and back on my own, as I am meant to be.

The Fight Inside My Head

I’ve written before about my anxiety. The nasty monster that creeps into my life more often than I would like, during good or bad times, and ravages the way I think and act. I’m on meds for it. I’ve gone to group therapy for it. Both have helped immensely. What was crippling to the point of missing work is now manageable, though highly uncomfortable.

For those of you that have been around since the beginning, you know what an utter mess I was during the separation from the Ex. In the last 2 years, more so in the last 6 months, I’ve made vast progress in my emotional and mental wellbeing. I’ve rid myself of the parasites I found learning early game and now, totally single, have created standards and codes, aiming for the highest quality of woman. Not exactly an easy find here, but its a work in progress.

The problem with my illness is that its genetic, from what I can gather. Passed down generation to generation. My mother has a version, so does my sister. Both of my grandfathers and great grandfathers had a version. Its something I can’t escape. I felt it coming on a few days ago. Something simple, something normal, set off a trigger inside my head. The switch, fight or flight, was stuck and my brain pumped its energy. Instinctual, primal, the feelings are not part of my consciousness. They run deep. My life is not bad. I’m working. I’m doing kick ass at my job as I learn. I am not what the impulses say, but they scream it out anyway.

Last night, it kicked me in to insomnia. I laid in bed, tired as fuck, but unable to put down the thoughts racing back and forth. I could literally feel a fight inside my head, between reality and the disease, between the now and the what was. Everytime I told myself its not as bad, memories of the Ex would appear. Tainted memories, things I never thought about often. Fights, moments that I should of noticed, moments in bed of pure happiness made fleeting. The things a man needs to forget to move on. I rolled back and forth, frustrated, for hours, until my body overtook my mind and finally put the war to an end through pure exhaustion. A few hours later, I was awake again and had to function. Things to do in the real world that don’t care for what thoughts keep me up at night.

These moments aren’t the oneitis of a lost chance, able to be broken and scattered with the return to the sexual battlefield. Its not something easily changed by going out and being social. Wrapped in the cloth of this modern man lies the beast of my ancestors, every perk and every flaw. There is no heart disease that kills to early. Cancer doesn’t pop up randomly. Choices and old age usually kill in my family. What is left is the bite of the deepest invisible monster, the last medical stigma. You can survive AIDS. You can beat breast cancer. You can get a new heart. You can’t change the very electric sparks that make you, you. You just have to push through and live, despite the storms you see coming fast, and after the debris has settled, get back to rebuilding. One piece at a time.

Welcome to the Suck

Anthony: I just ran through incoming to get a dead fucking battery.
Troy: Welcome to the Suck.

___

Everyday, from the day you were born to now, you’ve fought to stay alive. Right now, your body fights invaders and disease, your heart pumps over and over to push blood and keep you going. Your brain makes a million decisions on its own that make your body ready for whatever shit you’ll encounter, be it a tiger or an on-coming car. You’re alive today because you have fought for every minute of life.

Life’s a war and we are all warriors.

When you think on that, think about how you act in social situations. The time you let someone push you aside or the way that chick took your seat when you went to take a piss. Did you bow your head and let it pass? When your girl gets mad, did you “yes dear” your way out? Did she get what she wanted despite it being the absolute wrong decision? Did she test you and win?

It may be the way our society works today, but that’s not how to win a war.

“I’m sorry, honey.”

Don’t think because you haven’t been a strong person means you can’t be one. Everyone can fight. Every man born has a God-given ability to rise. I started my current job in film with a fear of making mistakes. I felt small and useless among those who have worked in it much longer than I. I got angry at myself a lot. Yet, it did not take long for my natural ability and my vast confidence to come out. Now, my boss looks to me for answers and his boss compliments me on my way of thinking. What was indecision last month is purpose now. I walk into work, no matter the situation, knowing I can win.

Fearless at Exceed and Lead posted this gem last month, and it fits with how I currently run:

A man’s potential is unlimited, the reasoning goes. A man can reach any heights in life in any sphere of activity. But in order to defeat his opponents a man must first overcome himself, combat his own fears, his lack of confidence and laziness. The path upwards is one of continual battle with oneself. A man must force himself to rise sooner than the others and go to bed later. He must exclude from his life everything that prevents him from achieving his objective. He must subordinate the whole of his existence to the strictest regime. He must give up taking days off. He must use his time to the best possible advantage and fit in even more than was thought possible. A man aiming for a particular target can succeed only if he uses every minute of his life to the maximum advantage for carrying out his plan. A man should find four hours’ sleep quite sufficient, and the rest of his time can be used for concentrating on the achievement of his objective.

Work to improve. Work to survive. Work to live.

Work to win.

Hot Fries, Pickup Trucks and Brotherhood

Sunny, humid, and we were in farm country. The warm weather would bring me down at the start. Reminders of long dead things. That was a few weeks ago. Rolling in to the parking area at around 3pm, dirt road and tall grass, barns and the sounds of horses. Having city people and their trucks of equipment all over must of looked strange if not that most “country” people are just transplants from suburbia. Have a horse and a few chickens does not make one rural.

It was a nice set up we had. Camera, electric and grips all next to each other. Production base camp just a few feet away. Craft services ready with food. The only downside was that the actual set was about 500 meters down the tiny side road with a rocky shoulder. Hundreds of pounds of equipment per department would need to be transferred by cart. That would take hours. The property owner of our set, or someone else with a slice of power, didn’t want the big transport trailers all over the grass. Understandable, but we were making a movie. Its a dirty job. Its a destructive job.

My department, camera department, was kind of fucked. Extremely expensive equipment, time sensitive setups and absolutely no transport to set. That would mean pushing our carts down the road. Luckily, the key (boss) grip lent us a pickup. In 5 minutes, we had all our equipment on. The pickup only had 2 seats though and there was 5 people being transported. The key grip, the 2nd AC (same as the last story) and myself jumped in the back. I sat on one of our carts, supporting my balance on the edge of the pickup’s bed. With the largest Red Bull money can buy in my hand, we set off down the dirt road and on to the asphalt.

All that was missing was the Dixie horn and a shotgun

The resident crazy ass transpo driver was behind the wheel. I nearly fell off when he turned down the driveway to set, but all that came out of my mouth was a “WHOOOOO!” You don’t get to sit on the line between fun and a cracked skull very often. Not an hour later, all the tech trucks were brought to set, parked down in one of the suburbia farm’s fields in a crescent moon. All we needed was a bonfire (we already had the beer) and the long weekend would of started.

Movie making is having huge amounts of stress in a very small amount of time. When something goes wrong, it can tank your reputation and respect in the industry if its not fixed. Getting used to different directors and their needs is frustrating, but a must. The previous one was always on our ass to move faster and faster. This one has a need to take his time, which removes the constant aggravation of “MUST SHOOT! MUST SHOOT!”, but the day will never end early. You can make a movie cheap and fast, fast and good or cheap and good. You can only get to pick one, and they all come with heart-pumping, head-sweating moments of “Oh shit.”

At lunch, most of the crew hung out at their trucks. The key grip, a farm-bred heart of gold, was shooting the shit with his guys when one of the props guys pulled out a toy he got a Wal-Mart: a foam-dart sniper rifle. The country boy, not to say no to having a little fun. He asked how it worked, grabbed a few darts, and by the red glowing light of the electric’s truck, walked up the ramp with the biggest grin. A few moments later, the pop of the gun followed by a “what the fuck!?!?” and the howl of laughter by everyone in our fireless camp. He came back out, loaded another dart and spotted one of his guys having a smoke by the front of the truck. The gun raised, he disappeared into the black. POP! “What?!?!” and more laughter. It was then I realized that I had found a brotherhood. Factions by departments, but in the end, we technicians and creative souls are part of a tiny brotherhood. Our experiences are singular. Our personalities unique. For every ten thousand farm-boys like the key grip, there may be five who can solve on set mechanical problems like him. For every 100 000 want to be photographer, the head of my department may be the only one who can set up lighting in lightning speed, making what could be a shitty movie look amazing.

As I drove home, sun rising over the lake, I smiled. Happy things are getting better, cleaner, in my life. Directions found and ambition focused. It may not have been the dream I had at 22, with a new life and a new wife and the world before me, but its a better dream. A dream for myself; my skills, my will and my wants.

I pulled in to A&W at 6am, hoping to having a well-deserved burger. The root beer came first and it tasted like victory. Soon, freshly made, I could smell the salt and the oils of meat and potato. I was hungry for something other than craft service, catered lunch and what I could find at home. As the chubby, dour looking employee handed me the bag with my food, she said “Be very, very careful.” in reference to the fries.

I drove off, laughing, eating a dangerous fry. Is that what we must be scared of now? Hot meals?

If she only knew what I did in the last 15 hours, she may give up telling shill people to watch out for reheated, freeze-dried food.

Amused Mastery and Queen Street Corner

___

There’s a mess of men waiting down Queen Street. Saturday fight night celebrations. Bartenders scrambling between pitchers and dispensers and the screams of young ladies in the mode. The young waitresses snaking through fat bellies and high heels, drinks and food held high between the drunks and the tokers. The old men slapping each other’s backs and the young ones giving fist bumps or handshakes too complicated for their clothing.

I find the last stool left and hop up to the bar. The man behind the bar offer’s me a pint of Blue, drink of choice during cheap pint nights. I nod and look up to the screen. The Prelims are over. Two beat ugly chicks stand in the middle of the Octogon. Glad I missed that. To my left, a group of four of Niagara Falls finest common women chat up a storm with a giant plate of cheese drowned nachos before them, already half eaten. None of them particularly attractive, but cute enough, except for the obligatory fat friend with a string of melted marble hanging from the corner of her lips. Reminds me of bad porno.

The night could swing that way. Talking to what’s available, getting in to trouble with some psycho cunt like the last one I picked up from here. I could drink too much, lose sense, and go for what I can instead of what I want. Nodding to long, bitchy stories, hoping for a little pussy after taking their verbal beating. I could be the man at the end of the bar with the dog faced woman swinging her hands in anger at some slight long forgotten by the man hoping to sleep with her. I could be the stumbling man and the manjaw with spiked hair “female” slipping hands between legs in a booth, shot glasses scattered on the table. I could be the hipster puking in the bathroom, drink still in hand, alone holding his leaking pride.

I watch the fights instead. I drink a pint, I eat and I yell at the TV. Watching tough men with no killer instinct “fight”. The old man next to me agrees. We talk and laugh. We pick winners and end up right.

A tiny, strong-faced chick with a tad too much makeup, but an excellent body walks up directly between my senior friend and myself. High on the crowd or already drunk, she tries a smile at me. The old man, born years beyond the taint of modern femininity, offers up his food to the lucky lady. Her friend, a nerdy type, shy as a nun, grabs some as well. He offers his seat up. Another time, another way of manners.

Roy Nelson knocks out Chieck Kongo. Sonnen gets his ass beat. I order my last beer, the tiny chick basically laying in to me, drunk as fuck. No talking, just looks. She leeches off the old man while getting her attention from me. I slide out of my stool, making sure she feels my departure and go outside. I sit at the newly bought plastic patio chairs. The entertainment is about to begin.

It begins with a shouting match. A small group of guys close, but visibly on two sides. On the edges are the females of the pack, chatting fast, growing to screaming. In response, the rivals start to scream, barking like little dogs on the wrong side of a fence. The crowd grows. The bouncer shows up. I sip at my Blue, laughing. Someone swings, the women screech and yell in fear. Shocked faces from the others on the patio as the street fills up. The most exciting moment of their week is happening. The safety of their world is smashed for a few seconds as a war seems to descend on the corner. I smile at the nearest woman, “I love UFC nights.”

I go back inside to finish my last pint. “You’re back?” the bartender asks, since I paid my bill a while ago.

“I never left. I stay for the entertainment.” He laughs.

I sit again and beside me is the two girls from before. The whole of the old man’s food order before them. The tiny one is shitfaced, head on her arms, arms on the bar. The nerdy one is keeping her eye contact isolated. No one should look at her, her darting eyes say. I play with the change I have left in my hand. Enough for another drink for the ladies beside me, enough for a drink for me as well. I finish my beer and slide the glass to the edge and place the money beside it. Life is good. Life is getting much better. My gut tells me to pay it forward to the deserving and that would be the hard workers in front of me, not the parasites beside me.

I hop off the stool once again and tip my hat to the nerdy chick who quickly looks away. I smile, amused by everyone around me. This is how it works, I realize. This is how you should feel. Not neurotic. Not insecure. Not scared. Not fearful. Not worried about what you said or what you did to scare off a girl. Not caring that a fight is a foot away from you. Not caring about anything but your own relaxation and joy.

The common way to decribe this is feeling like a king. I’m no king. Kings are authority. I feel like an outlaw. As I’m breaking the rules of the world. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the smile on my face, the spring in my step and the steel blue looks I give to the ones I deem worthy of my time.

Blood, Part 2

Part 1

2:15 a.m.

The triage nurse finally got to me after what felt like forever. The only other person in the ER was a old man looking sullen. Two coats tied to a bulging backpack, A napkin in with blood spots and spatter and two hand streaked. I could of been mistaken for one of Hamilton’s homeless.

The decently cute 20 something brunette in blue scrubs and a sweatshirt took down my story. A few minutes later, a older, larger nurse came in and worked on the rest of my paperwork. As she rolls the chair up to the desk, the sullen old man walks in to the room.

“My wife is trying to kill me!” he says, concerned.

“Sit down, Lloyd,” the nurse says. “The doctor will come get you soon.”

“Oh, okay,” he says and shuffles back to his seat.

Wife trying to kill you? I know that feeling, buddy, I thought.

Lloyd became my hero for the night, mostly because he was the only person I saw that wasn’t in the machine of hospital procedure. After the large nurse came waiting in the waiting room, not to be mistaken with the “you’re sick/hurt/dying, take a number” waiting room I was just in. Ten minutes in there and another scrubbed woman took me to a back room.

“The doctor will be with you soon.”

Its an eye exam room.

3:15am-ish

The head of transport finds me. He says he has a guy on standby to take me back to my car if I’m good to drive home.

4:15am-ish

I’m passing out in the chair, annoyed and tired. I haven’t eaten in 10 hours or so. I’m sore, my brain is going apeshit, my body is wanting to just slip into sleep. Finally, a doctor looking male walks in to the room. McMaster Medical on his sweater. Med student.

He introduces himself as such. I tell him the story, mention my meds, my work, etc. He looks at nose, sees blood. No shit, doc. Checks ears, breathing. All the fine steps he’s been taught. He tells me that it wasn’t my lungs or any kind of trauma. That the nose sometimes bleeds in cold weather. Mucus dries, cracks and it bleeds. But he’ll check with the actual ER doctor before letting me go.

I don’t know how long it took, but a actual white coated, fully educated doctor finds me. She asks questions again, then goes right to looking into my nose. Within seconds, I hear a “ah” and then she motions her student to look into the device. He nods and backs away. I’m trying not to sneeze with a few inches of plastic on some kind of nose telescope in my nostril with two people who get paid 10x more than I do per day staring down. This is not how I imagined my payday to go.

The doc in the coat tells me that the mix of cold weather, stress and heavy lifting exploded a blood vessel in my nose and sent the torrent of blood down my face. When I sniffed and tried to get it to stop, it went down my throat and irritated my throat which brought up the coughing and the red stuff within. She recommended I not work later that day in Gage Park. 12 hours of outside work in the cold. I agree. I call the 2nd AC and tell him I’m fine and what the doc said. I call transport and they take me to my car. Its over.

6 a.m.

Finally home. My mom is awake. I tell her the story. We talk for an hour or more before I slip into sleep.

After this, a series of phone calls wake me up. Its production office, asking how I am and if I’m coming in. I say my bosses are looking for a replacement for me. I get a call from my bosses, they can’t find anyone yet. I tell this to my mom who says, “Guess you’re going in.”

When you’re mom basically says, “Buck up, motherfucker,” you buck up. Just a nosebleed. I’m running on a collective 4 hours of sleep, but I called in anyway and said I could still make it if they really needed me.

They didn’t. They got a union trained trainee to run around the cold in the middle of the night for 12 hours.

I got a lot of sleep.

The end.

___