Sunday, July 14, 2019

SUFFER

07/08/2019 - 07/14/2019

Sacrifice.
If you're going to truly live and get anything worthwhile done on top of that, you'll need to accept it.
It's true that you can't make everyone happy all the time.  Somebody or some thing will always have to wait their turn while you spend time with someone or something else.  This delicate balance that is the key to life that you hear so much about is on the far side of impossible.  Starving artists complain, but I think they're the lucky ones!  I wish I could just starve for my art instead of either neglecting family and friends to find the time for it or forfeit the art altogether in favor of working some bullshit job just to pay the bills.  
Never give up.
You will do the things you want to do if they truly need to be done.
Nothing can stop you from creating your art except for yourself.  Stop blaming others and being miserable about your situation and start making the changes.  Don't feel sorry for yourself, there's no time for that, there's too much work to be done.  Circumstances and contextual obstacles are never going away, you need to pick your hill and die on it.
I believe strongly in the law of attraction that says what you want; wants you.  You have to believe in it and obsess over it, you have to know it will happen and accept that it's not your concern how, the universe will move mountains to bring it to you.
Suffer.
You will survive if you do without.  Make the time, make things happen.
Your people will understand and support you, and your art can, and will, have to wait in line for your people sometimes.  Failure and rejection are all part of the process and really do build character and perspective.  I'm not afraid to "fail" and I'm not afraid to "learn" from my "mistakes".  Successes will come and go through the hills and valleys of your journey, don't let them be the endgame.  Get right with who are, where you are and then the wins will be the icing on the cake.  It's true that you are bigger than your anxieties.  You are bigger than this whole world.  You are filled with beautiful and unique ideas, share them with the world in whatever medium you prefer. 
The best thing improv has taught me is to be in the moment.
(sometimes I think the only reason I keep doing it is for that constant reminder)
Do nothing begrudgingly;  be mindful and give your full attention to who you're with and what you are doing; always.
You could be in the nicest car on the nicest day and there will still be a jerk in a pick-up truck up your ass behind you.  Turn up the tunes and steady the course.  Drive it, at your own speed, right into the sunset. 
Live. 

In the immortal words of Butthole Surfers:
It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done.


On Monday I saw my friend Nick Di Gaetano's show Unbridled Futurism at the Toronto Fringe.
Nick had a back up band behind him for his songs but it was essentially a one person show.  
I was truly inspired by how brave and carefree he was to truly do his own thing. I'm honored to know so many really cool artists.
On Tuesday I had a staff meeting at work then we were up all night with a feverish baby.
On Wednesday I stayed home from work (took some naps!)
On Thursday I finished most of the first draft of the show (- the full Intro & Outro)!!!
On Friday my Sister came over in the evening to watch the girls.  Kenny and I went to see the new Spider-Man movie then we went downtown for some drinks and stayed over at my Sister's apartment.  We want her to get the trial run over-nights in before we leave her with the kids for a whole week in September when we go away to New Orleans for out 5th Anniversary!  We all love my Sister SO much, the kids freak out when they know she's coming over!
On Saturday we all hung out for some fun in the sun and then I WROTE!
On Sunday I went to work...

SUFFER



Sunday, July 7, 2019

SERIOUSLY THOUGH

07/01/2019 - 07/07/2019

Writing is HARD!
So is life!
Writing about your life is about as hard as it gets.
There have been some beers,
and some pizza,
and some chips.
I'm writing as hard as I can to get through my first draft.
I'm lucky to have a friend like Dana who is willing to take the chance to work with someone like me on a project like this.

Digging up all my old memories has been difficult, both emotionally and chronologically.
So much has happened in my lifetime, it's been quite a chore putting it all down on paper.
I definitely want to write a book when I'm done with this show AND I have great ideas for TWO more shows:

DRUGS
&
GHOSTS

First, I have to get through all this Blood!

DRUGS
(they were here before you & they'll be after)
The first time I went to Oshawa was to go to the methadone clinic for a program intake appointment.  When we pulled into the parking lot, there was a small crowd of people hanging out behind the building.  As we parked and got out of the car we seen a guy come racing around the corner and quickly join the group.  One member of the group gave their new friend a handful of cash and produced a paper coffee cup from his knapsack.  At this point, the newcomer proceeded to induce vomiting into the cup and then, to our surprise and utter amazement, his customer eagerly tipped back the cup and drank it all down.  He even tapped the bottom of the cup so as to not waste a single drop.
I started the program at a 60mg dose.


GHOSTS:
(You don't have to believe in them, they believe in you)
We always seen this guy peeking in on us at the apartment on Queen St.  He fooled Kenny every time when he would go into the bathroom to spy on her in the shower; she always thought it was me.  I was just bored of him always looking through the crack of the bedroom door, I felt embarrassed for the poor shy, quiet and awkward ghost guy.  After some time he started to get frustrated and built up the nerve and/or strength to start moving things around the place.  His favorite games included knocking everything off the shelf in the bathroom while we were sound asleep in bed and turning on the kitchen radio while we'd be watching t.v. in the living room and then turning off the t.v. when we'd get up to turn off the radio.  I spoke with my Great Aunt Mary who was among the eldest in my family with the most experience regarding this sort of unnatural phenomena.  Mary told me if the spirit was bothering us we had to tell it to leave.  The next time we were lying in bed and heard all of the bathroom shelf contents spill into the sink and onto the floor, I spoke out loud to him.  I told him we weren't impressed and didn't appreciate him messing with our stuff.  Soon he appeared in the crack of the bedroom door, peeking in all shy as he usually did.  I continued to tell him that we lived here now, we'd done him no wrong and if he planned on continuing to bother us, we'd have to insist that he leave immediately.
There was nothing.
Then the door flew open and he landed right on top of my chest.  we couldn't see him but Kenny could see as well as I could feel myself being pushed into the mattress under his full weight.  Her eyes widened as she watched this happening to me and I couldn't breath.  He held me there for a frozen moment in time and then flew out the swinging door and was gone; forever.

...
Keep on.

On Monday I had the day off for 'Canada Day'.  We had a nice visit from my Brother's ex girlfriend (one we like, not the dirt devil). I took my older Daughter to watch fireworks.
On Tuesday I drove back to work, afterwards I went back into the gym, had dinner with my Mom & Sister, and then played with Pepperoni Pizza Cats in the Fever Pitch competition at Bad Dog.
 (we won by 1 point!)
On Wednesday I spoke with Dana on the phone and she had some wonderful notes on the work so far and for moving forward.  She's so smart!
On Thursday I bought a 'vype e-pod' vaping device with nicotine and stopped smoking cigarettes!
I hope to ween off and be done with it once and for all.
When I got home I wrote (and watched tv)
On Friday I went to the doctor's to get my note for missing work.  Kenny was at work so I had to take the kids with me.
Diagnosis:
Lateral Epicondylitis (tennis elbows?) & tendinitis (carpal tunnel syndrome)
splints + acetaminophen + voltarin gel + stretches.
I had to buy 4 splints; 2 for my forearms to wear in the day and 2 for my wrists/hands to wear at night.
On Saturday we met back up with my our friend and her her daughter for birthday ice cream!
I wrote like a mad man through some of the toughest material in the show.
On Sunday I went to work...

SERIOUSLY THOUGH


Sunday, June 30, 2019

WORD TO YOUR MOTHER

05/24/2019 - 05/30/2019


Today is my Mom's 60th birthday!
As luck would have it, she is with us today (currently sleeping upstairs on the couch).
She's been at the house for the whole week and we've had some amazing quality time together.  
Our daughters just adore her, as do we, and we cherish the time we get to spend with her.
My Sister Maggie is coming over later and we're all going out for a nice dinner.

Break bread = family

My Mom raised us all on her own and always made time for fun and laughter.  We could always go to her to talk about anything.  A true provider, we never went without.  
We almost lost her a few times over the years to cancer and other various health issues, but we made it through, together.
These last few years have been the most difficult of her life, but we're making it through.
Together.

One summer, when we were kids, I was at the Meadowvale Town-Centre with my pal Murray.  We were in the Shopper's Drugmart checking out the toys.  This crazy woman from our building showed up and just grabbed me!  She started shaking me really hard and saying
"You are shit!  Say you are shit!"
Over and over again, she wouldn't let go and I couldn't get a way.
Murray booked it back to our building across the street to get our Moms at the pool.  
I'll never forget finally breaking free and running out of that mall, just ahead of this woman, scared to death that she was going to get me again.  I pushed through the front doors with her right on my heels and as the sun shone in my eyes I see a silhouette coming towards me.  It was my Mom and all her friends carrying their towels and lawn chairs, still wet from the pool.  It was a bad ass, slow motion Reservoir Dogs walk as they all came into view.  My Mom strolled up to me and put me behind her just as the woman came out of the mall.  
I wont repeat the things my Mom said to the woman that day, let's just say the woman was convinced to admit that it was her who was "shit" all along.
My Mom was so cool that day (and every day).
So smooth, so tough.
My hero.

This show is as much a dedication to my Mother as it is to my Brother.

This week I took off work.
My hands were so bad I couldn't even pick up my kids.  I needed the break from driving, and in the process, got to spend some amazing time with my girls and my own baby mamma.  We went to the Drive-In, celebrated the end of the school year, put up a cool little pool in the backyard and just hung out solid.  The week was sandwiched by two phisio appointments (it doesn't look like they can really help anymore and I have to go for x-rays next week and begin to explore other options), I also got my first notes back from Dana and we're meeting on Tuesday.
Mostly, I took the time to take my time.
I shared my writing for Blood with my Mom and she loved it!
+ Mom made us her famous Hamburger Gravy & Potatoes!
Next week, I'll go to work...

WORD TO YOUR MOTHER



Sunday, June 23, 2019

MUTHAFUCKA!

MUTHAFUCKA!

06/17/2019 - 06/23/2019


My father is basically a sperm donor.  
The only credit he gets with me is at least he was a repeat offender; he stuck around long enough to make my little Brother, and for that, I'm grateful. 
He took off when my Brother was born, leaving my Mother, who was recovering from surgery after almost dying giving birth, to fend for us alone.  He never payed child support, until he was sued and had his wages garnisheed, and not once did he ever help out my Mom.
When my Brother was a baby, he wouldn't take him at all, and they never bonded as father and son.  
I insisted that my Brother come with me on the rare occasions that he bothered to pick us up.
4 or 5 times a year he'd take us to his place, bring us to McDonald's and take us to a movie (he fell asleep every time) and complain about having to "waste the money", he'd smack us in the mouth if we said anything disagreeable and he'd talk mad shit about our Mother.
Great parenting dick head!
My Brother, somehow, built up and harbored a resentment against me for his whole life.  He got it in his head that I had this great and amazing relationship with our father, which I did not, and he was jealous to the point of uncontrollable rage at times.  
Delusional inventing, abandonment issues, transference and displaced anger.
And violence, 
lots of violence.
  
Violence against me and everyone else, including himself.
I truly believe our father was at the root of my Brother's issues.
Of course, we need to own our shit as adults and work it out, but it just doesn't always go that way.
The whole world is afflicted with issues stemming from fucked up early childhood development and trauma.  I spent most of my life feeling broken, incomplete and not good enough.  I, myself, filled those cracks in with many very bad things for a long time.
Sometimes, we get hurt so bad, we live there forever.
Through our pain we hurt others and they, in turn, do the same.
This is the cycle of violence.
When my Brother died, our father did nothing to help, he didn't even offer.
I remember he called me when i got home from Manitoba; I was still in shock.  I was stunned and in a strange fog, I was listening to this prick tell me about his brand new truck and I just snapped.
I stopped him and asked him if he was really telling me about a truck?!
That was the last time I ever spoke with him.
He didn't come to the big 'Celebration of Life' party we threw at my house.
He wasn't invited.
Being a father myself now, I sometimes find myself lovingly staring at my beautiful children and wondering how fucked up you'd have to be to walk away and never look back.
Thanks for nothing.

On Monday I populated our shared google doc with all sorts of blood!
(My hands didn't last a day after my last phisio session before they started spazzing out)
On Tuesday I went hard at the gym!
Then I played at Bad Dog with my Narrative class at Academy Tuesday.
We made a format called 'Making UP a Murderer' and we do a sort of murder mystery/mockumentary type thang.
On Wednesday I played with Pepperoni Pizza Cats at The Social Capital Theatre on the Danforth.  I've been producing this show for almost 3 years now.
(I had a very disturbing dream about my hands.)
On Thursday I wrote like a 'muthafucka'!
On Friday I went on a field trip with my Daughter's school to Niagara Safari;
I saw 3 giraffes! 
On Saturday The Early Show was cancelled at Bad Dog for low attendance;
we played online trivia games in the theatre.
On Sunday I went to work...

MUTHAFUCKA!






Sunday, June 16, 2019

TAXI DRIVER

TAXI DRIVER

06/10/2019 - 06/16/2019


I am not fucking around.
Life is short even when it's not tragically ended prematurely.
I have lost so much, and I've suffered for so long.
I'm also blessed and highly favored.
No weapons formed against us shall come to prosper.
I have a beautiful wife who gave me two amazing daughters.
I have joy and friends and fun and family.


I commute to work and then drive all day when I get there.
When I'm done work; I drive home.
I'm averaging 11-12 hours/day behind the wheel.
This repetitive motion is what is messing with my hands.  I once worked for a Jehovah Witness' landscaping company that made me do 900 hours straight on a trimmer until I had carpel tunnel syndrome so bad I couldn't un-ball my fists in the morning.  All the driving has also reeked havoc on the rest of my body as well.  Sitting and driving or sitting at the computer; too much sitting.
I need to move, but I have precious little time left in a day after I'm done with all my sitting.
I know that one day I'll look back at all of this and it will seem like a bad dream, but for now I've got to move.
I need to take better care of myself.
I need to make myself a priority.
My wife makes the most healthy and delicious meals I've ever eaten and that's wonderful when I'm home and great to know she and the kids are eating right when I'm gone, but I'm on the road a lot.


No more eating shit.
No more poison.
No more sitting down.
No more complacency and convenience.
I'm coming out of these cremated ashes like a glorious phoenix.



This is what it looks like:

Morning:
stretching
Qigong breathing exercises
50 sit ups
50 push ups
50 ab wheel roll outs
meditation
Respiractin


Afternoon:
stretching
treadmill (30 mins)
rowing machine
weights
L glutimine


Evening:
stretching
Qigong breathing exercises
50 sit ups
50 push ups
50 ab wheel roll outs
meditation


Sleep, sleep, sleep.
(*also: fuck all the haters as per usual)





On Monday I received my rental contract from the theatre.
I pulled the trigger = there's no turning back.
(My hands are cramping and spasming again)
On Tuesday I worked out like a convict and organized my space.  I cleaned out my basement office and made it more conducive to sit and write.
(It feels like tiny razorblades are rolling through my wrists and hands.)
On Wednesday I played with Funnies For Families at a downtown youth shelter.
On Thursday I played hooky.
On Friday I interviewed for a new job that would cut my driving by 7 hours/day + more $!
I went back for another physiotherapy session - more of the same + stress ball!
On Saturday I played with the Bad Dog Featured Players.
On Sunday I went to work.



Sunday, June 9, 2019

UNDERTAKING


UNDERTAKING

06/03/2019 - 06/09/2019



To say things have been stressful since my brother's death would be an understatement.  I know life can be difficult at the best of times, but the timing of the unforeseeable series of unfortunate events that followed his passing have been downright cruel, especially for my Mother.
My brother had a "girlfriend" and when he died, she did a lot of bad things. 
I'm sure there is a special place in hell for her far worse than the misery she's created here on earth, but that's not for me to say.  My Mom wanted to sell the house she co-owned with my brother and split the money between myself, our younger sister Maggie and the girlfriend.  This is exactly what Harold would've wanted.  There are a small group of morons who would disagree and I hope they enjoy long lives in the bliss of ignorance.  Mom wanted to just get out from under it and share what little profits there might be (it's in Winnipeg after all).  The second my Brother was gone, this girlfriend went to work spinning up a big stinky web of filth like the shit spider that she is.  She lied to the funeral home and told them she was his wife and made arrangements for her own private viewing 3000 kms away in Calgary, very much against the family's wishes.  My Mom was recovering from an emergency hysterectomy at the time of his death and couldn't make the trip even if she wanted to.  My family offered to have him brought home for burial, but once his girlfriend took it upon herself to have him embalmed and put on ice for her own service, the only recourse was for me to go out west to have him cremated and bring his remains home.
She went on to quickly put something called a 'homestead' claim on the property, which only exists on the law books in Manitoba.  This blocked my Mom from selling the property or being privy to any and all notifications from the bank, which is quite unfortunate because the girlfriend stayed in the house, for over a year, let the mortgage and all utilities lapse and then fled once the property went into foreclosure.  It was only at this time did the bank contact my Mother, along with the hydro company and everyone else looking for their money. 
Including the lawyers that bilked her the entire time trying to remove the girlfriend from the house to no avail .
This woman even went as far as to call my Mother to tell her my Brother's spirit was with her!
She went into great detail about how he was speaking to her and through her and she knew exactly what he wanted and would be speaking for him now?!
This completely mocked my Mom's religion and added insult to injury.
She withheld all of his personal property and told our Sister that we were crazy and Harold didn't love us.
?!?!
Unforgivable.


As the dominoes continued to fall, my Papa (my grandfather, my Mom's Dad) passed away.  My mom was barely able to cover the costs surrounding arrangements for him, but didn't have the same luck when, only a month later, his wife, my Granny, my Mom's Mom died too!  Mom had a hard time with these bills since she could not increase her credit limit due to the foreclosure on her property.  She still may lose her own home depending on how the sale of the Manitoba property works out. 
Not cool.
If you do wrong by my Mother = I hate you.
So would my Brother. 
You can scream your lies into an echo chamber of denial all day and bury your head in the sand but actions always have repercussions.
I believe this show will be extremely healing and therapeutic for myself and my family in the sense of closure with honour for my Brother.




On Monday I did not quit smoking as planned...
Instead, I smoked all day and, ironically, played an improv set with some friends that we call
"Hack a Dart"
I also guested on a set with a troupe called ASSFACE.
It was weird, such is life.
I stayed over at my Sister's place, she made us pirogues and we fell asleep on her couches before the show!
I spoke with a friend about how many men we know in the improv community that are creeps or date-rapists and pieces of shit.
(I did go to the gym and worked out like crazy + I ate salad!)
On Tuesday I spoke with Dana again and started planning our next session; looks like Thursday or maybe next week!
(I was sore as hell but I went back to the gym and worked out like crazy again!  No salad though, I'm looking forward to creating a regular gym schedule so I can figure out when my cheat days will be)
I had dinner with my Sister Maggie and we did not fall asleep!
Then I played the first show in a friendly improv competition with Pepperoni Pizza Cats at Bad Dog called Fever Pitch!
On Wednesday I was supposed to go for a follow up appointment at the physiotherapist...
My commute home took 4 hours so I missed that, dinner with my family, and a time when I wasn't at the mercy of traffic.
Spoke with Dana and scheduled a meeting for next Wednesday to organize our objectives and then I'm just going to write it all out!
On Thursday I got my dates for the show from the theatre!
Wednesday November 13th & Wednesday November 20th!!!
On Friday we buried my grandparents.
They were cremated and put in their family plot where their son (my Uncle) Harold was buried.
It was real.
Afterwards, we gathered at my Mom's house, where she lived with and took care of my Grandparents, to celebrate life.
There was a beautiful fire ceremony and my Mom said some very kind words.
On Saturday I missed my show with the Featured Players in the first show in the soft preview of our show 'Triptych'... traffic.
On Sunday I went to work.


UNDERTAKING


Sunday, June 2, 2019

NO PIZZA NO CHIPS NO BEER

NO PIZZA NO CHIPS NO BEER

05/26/2019 - 06/02/2019

I had decided to do a one person show a while ago.  People had been telling me I should do it for years, and after seeing two members (Jill and Franco) of my improv troupe (Pepperoni Pizza Cats) perform theirs in the Fringe festival, I was truly inspired.  I played with these folks often and it gave me the courage to think: if they could do it, maybe I could to!  They both gave such amazingly brave performances and their material was so personal and touching, it begged the question; what will my show be about?  Then my little brother died and all bets were off.  I was lost deep in grief and mourning for a long time and chose to not work on anything save for my day job to pay the bills, family and improv for self-care and therapy.  After many months of 'soul searching' and reflecting on my entire life, I realized that I have an unbelievable amount of stories involving significant amounts of blood.  A 'blood-line', if you will, that ran through my story like a river. 

Blood = family = life = death. 

In a while, I began to think about doing my show again.  This time around I knew I had to tell the story of my dearly departed brother Harold and all of the blood we had seen.  I spoke with my mom and my sister to tell them my intentions of sharing Harold's story and got their blessings.  I then spoke with a friend who I very much wanted to help direct the piece, they were 100% into it and then 100% flaked out.  This, coupled with the fact that I couldn't land a Fringe lottery spot, seemed to simmer the idea again.  It wasn't until I shared the idea with my dear friend Dana Puddicombe, that I realized I didn't need anything but the desire to share my story to start planning a show.  I'm a performer, she's a performer/director, we both produce shows all of the time, she loved the idea and was willing to direct, what more did we need?  Dana has a theatre and stage acting background and an amazing eye for narrative.  We sat down and got to work on mapping out the structure of this show, Dana knows all kinds of writing/performing devices and gave me some homework assignments to complete before our next meeting. 

I became more involved with The Bad Dog Theatre Company after being invited to join the cast of their Featured Players Ensemble and knew straight away that was the space to perform this piece.  Bad Dog is a very special and inclusive theatre run by and populated with kind and caring people.  I reached out and inquired about dates to a warm reception and am currently waiting for a confirmation on some timeslots in mid November.
We're really going to do this! 

Shit, we're really going to do this.

It's time to get to work.
After years of neglect and lack of discipline I find myself very out of shape and the heaviest I've ever been (220lbs!).  If I'm going to pull this off, I'm going to have to get in shape and put some power back into my body.  I decided, after procrastinating for so long, to use this piece as the opportunity to switch gears and truly start living again.  I want to own my story.  I took the girls (my wife Kendra and I have two beautiful daughters together: Adeline, 5 & Violet, 1) out for 1 more fish and chips dinner followed by ice cream (of course), drank a bottle of wine, and started writing! 

I decided to start this blog as a companion piece for the show to keep tack of my progress and help organize my thoughts.  I know this show will be a milestone in my life and I want to do anything and everything I possibly can to make it special for Harry.  He meant the world to me, and I know he'd appreciate this artwork hung on his legacy in hommage.

He deserves it.


On Monday I was hungover and late for work...
(my hands are sore from the repetitive motion of driving and I've been experiencing muscle spasms)
On Tuesday I started this blog and set up social media accounts for 'blood' on all platforms, then I rehearsed with Pepperoni Pizza Cats and rested...
(pain in hands/physio appointment booked for Friday)
On Wednesday I went back to the gym...
(I felt the burn!)
and then I volunteered at Bad Dog's Combustion Festival...
(hands feel better after the gym)
On Thursday I got paid and bought a pemeal bacon sandwich at St. Lawrence Market...
(diet starts on Monday)
On Friday I wrote...
(physiotherapy session was strange; dipped my hands in hot wax, wrapped them in parchment paper, put them in oven mitts - for circulation + a deep-tissue ultra sound for concentrated healing)
On Saturday I did chores & played in Combustion Festival at Bad Dog Theatre...
On Sunday I went back to work...
and wrote...
(my hands feel good)

NO PIZZA NO CHIPS NO BEER











SUFFER 07/08/2019 - 07/14/2019 Sacrifice. If you're going to truly live and get anything worthwhile done on top of that, you'...