Ramble On / Battle Cry


___

I was signing in to Soundcloud from my phone to listen to The Christian McQueen Show (props to Christian and Dagonet, its funny as fuck and has great content). I pressed on the profile button, not thinking much of it, and up came this. My old music from the aftermath of my marriage. About a dozen tracks of mediocrity and/or down right bad beats, but all an expression of the pain, loss and loneliness of a blue-pill beta world being ripped from his hands and turned to ash.

Where has the time gone?

I was three years ago last week I crossed the Canadian border with $36 in my bank account, a shit-ton of debt from my ex, my drinking and my irresponsibility and no hope other than a familiar bed and familiar place. I moved my entire life in a single Dodge Stratus, having trimmed a lifelong partnership down to what I felt was the most important. Grasping to the things I felt that made me.

Three years is a long time.

Last week, I was adventuring in the wilds of British Columbia, my last week there. My instinct about this exchange being spot on. Soon after that post, I was notified I had two weeks left due to budget constraints. I don’t blame anyone, the bosses or the newbie or the culprit. When the anger past and I looked at it all clearly, this woman in a position of power had no idea what she was doing, or how it fucked me over. It wasn’t a conspiracy, it wasn’t a vendetta, it was something so much simpler. It was just selfishness. Selfish actions, narcissism and an utter lack of self-awareness. Everything that we know about the typical Western woman. Instead of showing me that she was worthy of her title, this woman showed me all she was no different than the leopard print legging, frayed UGG wearing zombies I see at Wal-Mart.

It did not deter me. When my adventure was over, I told my parents (my ride) that I walked on an ancient glacier, I climbed kilometers of forest, I flew in helicopters to the top of the world and drank pristine water. I did my job right and I did it well. And, when they brought me back to their house, my old house, I recouped for no more than an hour from my long flight. Soon after, I grabbed what packages I had ordered, my car and headed back out. By the end of the night, I had not gone to my own home, but to that of a girl, who happily greeted my return. I finally unlocked my own door at around noon the next day.

Since then, I’ve been on a spree of gear buying, organizing and planning. My room is no longer a pigsty of work, clothes and plain laziness, but a thought out collection. My fridge is full of the right food, not pizza boxes and pop as it was when I cleaned it out before leaving. Hooks and shelves. Roughneck tubs and tape labels. A rucksack being build up to tackle the great big world that lives outside the streets of a city.

001

Three years ago, if I hadn’t put myself on a path to accept the harsh realities of women, and people in general, what happened to me would of destroyed me just as bad as the end of my marriage had. I had done right, worked hard, played on the team and done my part beyond what I was told it would be and, like the end of my marriage, it was the selfish needs of a woman and her missing self-awareness that ended a good thing way too soon. But, because of people like Christian and Dagonet, like Rollo, Dalrock and the long-departed Solomon II, and the countless others I’ve been inspired by, I was able to push myself to become a better me, and through that a better man.

___

Advertisements

Walk the Line

___

The veins begin to grow on my neck, blood pumping through every tube at high speed. My skin burns and your eyes widen. Everything comes to a slow crawl, there is nothing left inside but the fire of the animal. Go for the kill, it says. DO IT!

I twitch, no one sees. So close. GO! GO GO GO! But, I rest, time speeds up to normal. And there is her long, horse-like face, sans makeup, sans any redeeming quality. A person again, nothing more than a person. And her words.

Cunt, the human says as she turns away. Whorecunt.

My boss, out of nowhere, for no other reason to wave her non-existent dick in front of the new blood, insulted me. Told me I was awful for camera and that I should be doing lighting instead. With her new, nubile, inexperienced assistant at her side, she told me to “Get out of the way. Woymn are here!”

Could I have said something? Of course. I was within my right to. I could of lit the fire under her feet and let the whole place burn with my words. It could of cost me my job, this train of money into my account and work with this company, but it would of been justice on a woman who has made everyone’s life out here beyond difficult on top of our normal duties.

But I withheld. I eyed the boss of bosses talking to the moneylenders, trying to keep the chaos in check. I eyed the other camera head talking shop with one of the producers. I had no back up. I had no exit strategy. My fire would be put out quickly, the arsonist blamed and strung up, and wounds treated and pampered (more than she’s been already). The net benefit would be a second of personal satisfaction and six weeks of punishment, at best. Home and poor again, back to square one, at worst.

Status and respect do not go hand in hand. To those not in the tyrannical cross hairs of a mentally ill feminist, her title comes with all the respect I give to the others who’ve earned it. The others have recognized my hard work, my skills and my loyalty, and given the respect I deserve. She dismisses it all, because I have a penis, a penis that gets in the way of her political and mentally deformed ambitions that we all must suffer through.

Could I have said something? Only if I wanted to be like her and sabotage the job for personal gain.

I held my place, shut my mouth and walked away. Saving my words for another day. A day when the system is not at her back. A day when the line can be crossed, happily and with purpose.

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.

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.

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.

___

Blood, Part 1

___

2:30am, Thursday Morning

Done day 3. I get home and sleep.

11:30am

I wake up from the first full sleep in a week, feeling alright. I shower, shave, get a caffeinated drink and relax until I have to leave.

1:30pm

I arrive at base camp ready to work. The night before the 2nd AC was on an organize rampage. End of night, frayed, I wasn’t happy. So next day I just wanted to get to it and get the day done. Fuck everything else. I do some cleaning of the camera truck and other custodial things before having a coffee and catching the 5-minute van right from camp to set.

2:30pm

Work begins. Back inside the $4 million house perched above Hamilton, the so-called “armpit of Ontario”. From the Escarpment, the city looks strangely beautiful, the exhaust towers and steel mills just specks along the shore of the lake. I like Hamilton, as I like Philadelphia. Cities with character and proud citizens, despite the extreme love or hate. With rainbow of tape on my belt and tools in my pouch, the chaos begins.

8:30pm

Lunch. Chicken stuffed with peppers and feta cheese. Damn good. The 1st AC, the 2nd AC and I talk camera talk. What chips are in different cameras and how to calculate distances for actors, objects and the like. The hardcore tech talk that usually passes right over the head of everyone else. For a short lunch, I re-learned all the specs I had forgotten from my sleepy college courses.

1:00am, Friday Morning

An early leave? Sure. The 1st AC was able to get the equipment truck to ferry our shit first before anyone else. We were closing in on the end of inside shooting and about to move outside. I was taking bags and cases to our pushcarts between takes while making sure my main responsibility, the video monitor for the director, was hooked up and running. Lift, place, return, stop, wait, lift, place, hurry, hurry.

1:40am

“You guys are so fucking slow”, says the 1st AC.

He’s tired, frustrated. We all are. Its below freezing outside and the small amount of wind makes it colder. Been through it before, Canadian-style, but after all the work and rushing, we’re all ready to call it a day and go home. He barks that his main equipment bag is the wrong way. I didn’t put it there, but I turn it around so it opens inward on the pushcart instead of the outward the 2nd had it. Its a heavy motherfucker, full of everything he needs to keep the lenses in pristine status so he can pull the proper focus. The 1st reorganizes the carts faster than I can load them. The 2nd takes pictures of them to remind himself of the proper system. As I lift, I’m pissed. In my state of mind, the 2nd’s lack of experience is showing. I’ve worked TV and film longer than he has, but I have little experience in his job. We work well together, but when he panics or loses steam, I’m straining to keep his mind afloat and do my job. I swear a “fucking motherfucker” as the black bag is finally turned in the proper direction. I sniff back a runny nose and wipe the excess my bare hand.

“What the fuck?” There’s blood on my hand. A lot. Maybe I hit it and its just a little bleeding. I sniff and continue and wipe again a few moments later. More blood, same amount. Every time I feel it come out and I wipe, there’s blood. I use our lens-safe tissue and create a ball, putting it up my nose and removing it. Its soaked through.

“Are you okay?” asks the 2nd AC. I say yeah, my nose is bleeding. Its nothing. In my head, I’m wondering why. I’ve never had a honest to God nosebleed. There’s been sporting hits, a little blood here and there, but never the amount that was spewing from my right nostril. I sniff it back as much as I can, but it won’t stop. The 2nd gives me some napkins. The box truck shows up and I walk over there, a wad of napkin in my nose. I can keep working, I tell myself. The box truck’s driver has walked off. Fuck. I head back to the pushcarts and cough into my fist.

“Fuck,” There’s blood on my hand. No way. Must of come out of my nose. It’s cool, I tell myself. Inside, the sleeping anxiety that’s been dormant for months and months rears. I feel the tingle and the shaking, but my head is straight. Its fine. It was a little bit. Its from my nose, must of got into the sputum when my head shook. Just keep working. The director calls action on a MOS (without sound) shot and I cough again, harder, into a clean white napkin. Its full of blood, diluted by spit. “Fuck,” I say, loud enough the head lighting tech turns to look at me. My body panics. So does the 2nd AC when I tell him I got to go to the hospital. As I’m being walked down the large front yard by a member of the crew, my friend and the head of camera department says, “Jordan, what’s wrong?” I calmly shout back as I get farther away from him, “I’m coughing blood.” Everyone heard that one, including the famous-in-Canada boyfriend of our lead actress, visiting her this fine night. He’ll know me now, I laugh to myself.

Within a few minutes I’m at the corner of the driveway waiting for a van ride to St. James. I have a co-producer standing next to me. A cute, young looking woman whose eyes are wide and voice full of concern. I tell her it could be just blood that’s gone down my throat from sniffing, but you can’t take chances. She agrees, eyes still wide. The 2nd AC gives me my backpack, which has my Health Card in it, the proof that this run to the ER will be covered by Ontario’s “free” healthcare. The van arrives, the people around me look scared. I’m scared too, but I say everything I can to not worry them or myself. Despite all that could be running through our heads, logic says its something simple, something safe. The probability of the worst case is small, yet its all they’re thinking about.

As I get in the van, they hand me forms. There are always forms to be filled out.

To be continued…