Wednesday, October 19, 2011


When I was young and actually looked forward to birthdays, the countdown began at least two months beforehand. I’d browse the Sears catalog, take in the Saturday cartoon commercials, peruse the toy section at Eaton's Department Store and create ever-changing wish lists for parents and grandparents. (They needed to know that there were alternatives to woolen socks and books about the Hardy Boys.) Time crawled as the date neared. Same for Christmas, summer vacation and the start of a new season of “Rhoda”. Yeah, I was ecstatic when she married Joe, but I related more to Brenda.

If only Anticipation were satisfied as quickly as the slowly oozing stream of ketchup in a bottle of Heinz, coaxed along by the husky vocals of Carly Simon. So many waiting games are much more excruciating.

I am standing by my plan to move to Los Angeles in July 2012. That’s eight and a half months away. Yes, I’m counting down. Yes, I have a wish list. Make connections, land a lowly writer’s assistant gig, make more connections, sell a screenplay or move up to SENIOR writer’s assistant for a television show. (Senior writer’s assistant—that’s gotta be the guy who orders the pencils and makes lattés, not just regular coffee.) The problem is that I am hitting hurdles before even crossing the border.

Problem #1: My house. Now thirty years old, my house has started to show some wear and tear over the past year. I spent the summer calling laborers to do the necessary repairs and upgrades before I could list it. Calls went unanswered. Appointments got rescheduled. July turned to August. Materials became out of stock. Shipments were delayed. August segued into September. Still, I could see the finish line. The basement carpet that my now-deceased older dog had repeatedly soiled was replaced by laminate flooring. Dim lighting gave way to bright pot lights. Rooms that inexplicably never had any heating source were hooked up with baseboards. Views improved as windows with broken seals were removed. A drywaller filled in all the holes created by the electrician. The only thing left for me to do was to prime and paint the drywall.

And then it rained. Nothing extraordinary. Just a typical five-day streak of downpours and showers. Plop. Plop. Drops began to fall from the ceiling in one of the bedrooms. The aging roof pressed for retirement. Last week, I got a new roof. Now I need to get the drywaller back in to fix the ceiling. (I am sure his kids will be getting way better Christmas presents than woolen socks this year!) I spend my evenings searching for fortuitous deposits in my bank account—maybe I should help that Nigerian ambassador who keeps emailing me—and then planning the payment succession from credit card to line of credit to ???

Ah, but the money will come when the house sells. Right?

It will sell. Right?!

Despite dumping all that money into work that had to be done, selling the house will still be a huge challenge, especially doing so in only eight and a half months. In Vancouver, houses sell in a week, perhaps a month. A ferry ride away, it’s a radically different market. Two houses in my neighborhood have been listed for over two years. Other homes in the larger community have sat with For Sale signs for up to three years. Signs are everywhere. Collectively, that’s a bad sign.

I should have the house listed in early November. Prime time for house sales. Right?

Problem #2: The visa. I once had a permanent alien card, allowing residency in the U.S. Six years ago, I flew to Dallas to visit my parents for a weekend and a customs officer threw a fit over the fact my parents were American and I wasn’t. He sent me off for questioning and I nearly missed my flight. I had to sign a form surrendering my visa card. Now I am one of hundreds of thousands looking at the (fading) American Dream from the outside.

I can’t get an American employer to petition on my behalf for work purposes. Steven Spielberg doesn’t know me yet. From what I’ve read online, I move up in the queue if my parents successfully petition on my behalf. First step is to establish that I am their son. The form is ready to go. Unfortunately, my birth certificate does not list parents.

I knew it! In Ontario, at least, babies are delivered by storks. (I think this is connected to my fear of flying. Being airborne while dangling in a cloth from a bird’s beak had to be traumatic.)

More online searching and I discovered that I can apply for a “long form” birth certificate. If I have parents, the certified copy will show this. Having proof of my legitimacy remain in limbo would normally be mildly amusing. But the fifteen business days seem to pass slower than the two-month buildup to my birthday. Tick tick.

The hurdles are there to test whether I really want a change. And here I thought I’d already worked through that. I am anxious to step up to the starting line. Some things in childhood required seemingly endless long waits. I preferred the instant action. Someone yell, “Ready, set, go!”


Rick Modien said...

Thank goodness we're better able to handle waiting as adults (in most cases) than we were as children. Chris claims I have no patience, but, compared to when I was a kid, I have patience galore.

I recently spoke with my old financial advisor in Victoria, and he tells me the real estate market there is not in good shape. I can only imagine what it must be like in more remote areas of the Island.

So--not that it's my place to raise these questions, but--have you considered what you'd do if your house didn't sell any sooner than others that have lingered on the market for years? Obviously, that will have an effect on your ability to follow through with your plans next summer (although I'm hopeful all will work out because it's meant to be).

If you have to stay where you are for a while, could you still do some script freelancing? I'm not sure if that's even a possibility. Also, if working in the U.S. becomes an issue (because of your Visa), could you work in larger Canadian centers, like Toronto, for example? Not L.A., I realize, but I assume Canada has an entertainment industry, and I'm sure it's in Ontario.

Here's how I look at it. If it's meant to be, it will happen. Chris and I have been fortunate that way. Major changes have taken place in our lives, as they do in everyone's, and the most amazing array of details fell into place exactly when they had to. Doesn't hurt to have our plans and to keep working on them, but, sometimes, we have to take a step back and let things happen.

I believe everything happens for a reason. So let's say L.A. doesn't work out (I'm just saying...), either getting there or finding a job as a writer in the entertainment industry. What then? Is there a satisfactory compromise (because I'm sure I don't need to tell you few of us get everything we want. And, sometimes, that's a good thing, because we don't always know what's best for us.).

Anyway, I've said enough. I hope I haven't pissed you off with anything here. I just have a little life experience behind me, and I hope I can lend some balance to what you're trying to do (not that I don't hope everything works out the way you want it to).

By the way, I loved "Rhoda," too. Great show. I miss Valerie Harper.

Rural Gay said...

Hi Rick,
Yes, L.A. may have to wait--oh, how will the town bide its time--but for now I have to proceed as though all will fall into place in accordance with my timeline. I am a major procrastinator so, if I allow myself to think much about the strong possibility of delays, I will put off all the necessary steps that are within my control.

If my plans get pushed back or altered due to other forces, so be it. I will adjust. Foggy notions of Plans B through H exist in the back of my mind, but for now my heart and mind remain focused on Plan A. Four months from now, I may be blogging about selling handpainted rocks from a wagon on the side of the TransCanada Highway. One way or another, change is a-coming!