Friday, October 31, 2014

Good Morning…And I mean Morning!

I've got to do something about this…. this broken internal clock. Last night, as usual, I was home alone and, as so often happens, I found myself without the energy to concentrate on writing or anything substantive, so I started watching TV. And that puts me to sleep so I go to bed far, far too early. Last night, I went to bed at 8:30 and so—no surprise here—I wake up at 2:30. It's now 4:30 am and I have been working for almost two hours on Trudeau, the Felons and Me.  So what time will I be tired tonight, I wonder? And what time will I will get up tomorrow? At least I get a lot done.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Good—No Great!—News

Today, like yesterday, is shockingly warm. Being almost November, your mind makes you dress warmly before going out, so that is what I did yesterday before going to meet Dwight for lunch. And I was stunned to realize I was way too hot. I had to take my coat off and walk in my t-shirt alone—and that was over the bridge where you are exposed to the wind. But I was hot. Today is cloudy, not sunny, but it is just as warm. Yesterday it reached 18°; it was the warmest Nov. 29th in 39 years.

Last night while I was teaching, my phone rang. Hospitals operate on a 24-hour clock and Jane, a physician in the respiratory clinic called to say that the CT scan of my lungs looks "really good," and that they will not do another until a year from now because my "shadow" looks so stable. This is instead of every three months, so bullet dodged.

Also, yesterday I renewed my HIV prescription myself for the first time in 18 years. I did it online. No more going into the hospital for an interview. Progress.

Voice Control

It is tiresome and I suppose I will be doing it forever. It is also weird. Weird, weird, weird. I constantly tug my larynx.

My voice is not great. It isn't horrid like before but it is difficult to speak normally, especially words with a hard "O" sound. But I chugged through my class last night, physically pulling my larynx down every time someone asked a questions or when I took a sip of water. That is my big self-discovered "trick:" I take a sip of water and as my right hand picks up the glass, my left hand hauls my larynx back down to where it should be from the heights of my throat where it likes to go on its own.

It is a constant battle. Doing Trudeau, the Felons and Me next year will be over one hour shorter than teaching a class, thank God. And I will have more tricks by then and I'll do exercises all day before each show to properly prepare. It is only a two-week run.

Personal Bests

Tim Cook
There have been so many reasons to love Apple Corp: the iMac, iPod, iBook, iPhone etc. etc., but when I woke up this morning and read this quote by Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.
"Being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me. Apple loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people's differences."
Amos Lee
 This man, Amos Lee, and this song, Violin, have brought me so much pleasure over the past few weeks. The link is to a live version, but his studio version is just should shivering.

I fell for Ed Sheeran and Amos Lee after doing a little research about singer/songwriters and then I bought a lot of music by them, songs unheard. When I first heard Afire Love, I liked it. The second time I listened more carefully and it tore my heart apart. It's about his late grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He died just weeks after he began writing the song, so the song was amended in accordance and discusses Ed's reaction to the disease as a child all the way up until his grandfather's funeral (where Ed finished writing the song)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Penticton (Maybe)

There's a windstorm in Vancouver today.
I am out standing in my field.
I got a contract today from Emily Carr University. It's a great deal. My usual wage for my two-month course, but it's an offer to teach my whole course in four intensive days in Penticton next April. They fly me up and back, put me up in a hotel, give me healthy per diems and a great wage. How could I say  no? (Pending sufficient enrolment, of course.)

After a week with 95% of my voice, I am having a 40% day today. Ain't it always the way. You get better so you stop doing the exercises and you think you are cured and then, wham, a relapse and you are reminded that maintenance is required.

I got an email from Presentation House. I have a meeting there on Nov. 12th, so I have to burn on my re-write in order to get it to Kim early enough ahead of that date for him to read it. He gave me an update on casting and said that a reading in late November or early December is his plan. That's good news to me. I need feedback.

Which do you think is worse, Jian Ghomeshi, being accused of sexual battery or shaming the victim?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

Imagine! October 26th and this afternoon I met Paula for a walk around Burnaby Lake and I had to take my coat off I was so warm. I walked in the shade in a t-shirt on a day, in the past, when we have  had snow. Paula was willing, not keen. And I almost lost her right at the beginning when I told her it would take 2.5 hours to walk. But she absolutely loved it and texted me to say so.

With my two walks today, I did 25 kilometres (15.53 miles). Walk in the park!

Sunday Morning, Part 2

Well that was unusual. There were two huge races in the park this morning. One of them was on the seawall and the other was on the road. Both were foot races. I walked against the flow, not knowing what was coming. Once all 3,000 of them on the seawall past me, I never saw another living soul, hardly. They had closed the seawall so I was alone once the hairball of runners went by. And I was back by 10:30 am. That was the fastest I have ever walked the seawall I think.

Chris' Prayer

A conversation with a friend got me thinking. And what I thought got me thinking about why I thought the way I do and that led to me writing the first prayer I have ever written. I am totally surprised to find myself writing a prayer; I am loving my older age and letting whatever wants to, come out. Here is Chris' prayer:
"Lord, let my deficiencies affect only me and give give everyone around me the desire and courage to make me better by speaking up if and whenever I, in anyway, disappoint them."
This prayer is my essence.  The first part, "let my deficiencies affect only me," comes from living with my mother's mental illness. The second part, "give everyone around me the desire and courage to speak up," comes from a person with no family who really needs his friends.

(That's me on the top of a sand dune in Namibia and let me tell you about having asthma and climbing to the top of a mountain of slippery sand.)

Sunday Morning

Saturday was the kind of day people think Vancouver has all the time: It poured with rain all day. And I mean poured. But the truth is, it rarely rains here like it did yesterday. I stayed in all day and took cleaning to a fetish level; I even cleaned the gravel floor of the aquarium. It was fine to be forced to slow down, relax and stay small. I was so relaxed, I was falling asleep by 8:30 pm and so I went to bed.

Consequently, it is 5:13 am as I write this sentence. I got up at 3:30 and I saw stars in the sky. The storm has passed, which means in a few of hours I can be on the seawall for a brisk early morning walk. And then I will come home to work on Trudeau, the Felons and Me (TFM).

I wrote TFM during three weeks in July. That draft earned me enough interest for Kim to agree to produce it so in August I wrote a second draft and since then I have not even looked at it. Consequently, I had trepidation about getting back to it because all my life I was plagued by Next Day Syndrome (NDS). NDS is what I called my tendency to hate everything I wrote the following day when I re-read it.

But I was relatively happy with what I discovered. And it truly felt like a discovery because writing TFM concurrent with writing Uncle Gus' Monkey was challenging—as has been writing a fictionalized story of my life and remembering the changes made from the facts. My brain feel too full. Anyway, I was energized by my "rediscovery" of TFM. When I finish draft three, I am going to ask for a workshop or organize a reading myself.

Below is the prologue. The show is about my seven years at Presentation House during which time I designed and built the theatre and then changed their embarrassing amateur art gallery for local artists into a centre for photography that has become so successful that a huge sparkling new building for it is going to be built on the waterfront in North Van soon. The show is in the Presentation House theatre this coming June.

Chris:             Good evening, and welcome, and how do you do?
My name is Chris, and I’m here to imbue
on this night, in this house, and deep within you,
an engagement of spirit for this place where we view
the arts and ourselves, and where we accrue
our sense of community, of belonging to
each other, and where we learn to eschew
disconnection and difference, and instead, to pursue
celebration, achievement and all we can do
… together.
     I’m here from the past with a tale that’s true—
at least it’s true from my point of view.
With a story worth telling and relevant to
the future as you consider just what to do
with this dowager palace and the hullabaloo
with the gallery bidding this centre adieu.
     I’m here from the past, to remind and renew
your understanding of the where what and who—
all the sordid tales about our debut;
a retrospective, a memory a déja-review
of the dreamers who dreamed and the dream that came true.
Of the dancers who leapt, pirouettes, pas-de-deux,
and sculptors and painters, and all that they grew
out of cobalts and phthalos and cadmium hues;
of actors and singers, and their much ado
that moved us, inspired, reminded us who
we are as a people; why we do what we do.
And I may make a fuss, a slight ballyhoo,
about one thing I did, and could never outdo.
And that was deciding, out of the blue,
that we would use photographs as our point of view
for telling each other why we do all we do.
When I was here, I was head of a crew
of youth with a passion to build and renew,
Even though some of us knew it was true
We were here because of a social taboo;
Regardless, not one of us, not ever, withdrew,
our challenge here etching us like a tattoo.
The actor and actress enter.
And enriching this telling of tale overdue
Are Actress1 and Actor, 1 two thespians who
Can offer you all more objective a view,
Actor:         And bring life to his story; this stage we will chew,
                   And correct any bits that we feel are untrue.
Actor:         We’ll reveal, amuse provoke and we’ll woo.
                   And satisfy those who are trés curieux.
Chris:       Armed with these colleagues, for you I’ll review
The proud history of brilliants and idiots who
Put the life in this place, paying accolades due
to those who deserve them, from my point of view.
                   And just as in life, if perhaps you tell two,
They’ll tell two more — and soon there’ll accrue
A community of interest in all that we do
here to brighten and deepen our community’s view
of this world that we live in and our human zoo.

     That it’s not a dull story I can attest to
Because sometimes we suffered as most projects do
from people on whom I wanted to spew.
Like Old Mister Proud who hadn’t a clue
about people or culture or just how to do
anything. And he ran this place too!
Mr. Proud:          The opinions of minions tend to imbue,
The truth with opinion that’s hard to see through.
Chris:                 And the partner he chose for his mauvais pas-de-deux
Was one Lady Ferret a viper, a shrew.
Lady Ferret:       Quite frankly, without us, you might misconstrue
just who are the heroes in this little review
of our history all told from his
 point of view.
Chris:        Please excuse me, dear colleagues,
                   I must bid you adieux
And start telling this tale that’s tantamount to
a soap opera! And so, dear friends, without further ado,
here is our tale of how, when and who.
1 The real names of the actors will be used.