Thursday, September 29, 2011

HERE I GO AGAIN

Six years ago, I commuted five days a week from my house to my place of work in Richmond: 5:20 a.m. alarm, a walk with the dogs to the ferry, a journey across the water, another walk to a remote parking lot and then the drive to work. Two and a half hours in the morning, two and a half hours in the evening.

It’s a déjà-vu I swore would never happen, but I’m doing it again, the only differences being I’m down to one dog and work is in Burnaby. I may have cut five minutes off each leg of the commute.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. The house was supposed to sell. I’d be back in the city. One home, a decent ride to work, maybe even something along a transit line or bike route. Bah! Getting a second place in the city isn’t financially feasible. Last year, I spent $1,700 a month on the extra rent, doggy daycare and commuting costs. Now I’m down to $1,000 per month. Still crazy but relatively reasonable.

The upside is that I have built in time to write each day on the ferry. I even have my own office. It’s a caged area on the vehicle deck where my dog and I must stay during the trip. There are often imposters of the two- and four-legged kind cramping our space, but this will lessen as the weather gets colder and rainier.

While I am still writing, there is less material for the blog. I’m back to being gay in absentia. As I’m in a highly involved job and I have a five-hour commute, there is little or no time for anything gay or gay-ish to happen. That’s not necessarily bad. It is what it is.

This morning, as my dog and I left the house to walk the first leg of our journey, I gazed up at the night sky and marveled at the stars which I’d never see under city lights. As I boarded the ferry, I peeked at the silhouette of the mountains across the water. Lovely. This is why I chose such a crazy place to call home.

By next week, the house will be back on the market. It won’t sell fast, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be out of there by the beginning of July, ready to start a new chapter of my life in Los Angeles. The same phrase about being single applies to selling the house: it just takes one person. I need to be luckier in real estate than I’ve ever been in love.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

CALL ME IRRESPONSIBLE

If I want to feel young, all I have to do is call my parents.

Alas, it doesn’t make the lines on my face fade away or zap the gray from my sideburns, but I’m thirteen again. Sometimes younger.

In their eyes, I’ve never grown up. Three university degrees, a published novel, a position of leadership...none of that matters. I lost a library book when I was seven. And another when I was eight. Maybe two the following year. Not sure. I’ve repressed much of the past. Too bad my parents never mastered that skill.

Somewhere in my childhood, I left the gate ajar and the dog got out. He was found ten minutes later, sniffing doo in a neighbor’s yard, but that meant 600 seconds of worry that an intruder had stolen our bad-breathed, tinkle-prone, yappy terrier. (They were in high demand back then, I guess.) My fault.

In grade one, I took my dad’s album of “The William Tell Overture” to school for Show and Tell and Randy Simpson tripped over the turntable plug, scratching and then cracking the beloved LP. If my teacher had been more aware of the cord hazard or if Randy hadn’t been so consumed with digging for a booger, the album would have survived. All ifs were off. I was to blame for the damage. (If I’d asked and received permission, wouldn’t the disk’s fate have been the same?)

I was irresponsible; therefore I am irresponsible.

A couple of weeks ago, I announced to my parents that I was quitting my job. In July 2012. (If you thought for a moment that I’m bound for Olympic glory in London, I am flattered. Cramped-calf muscle hobbling is not even an exhibition sport.) I plan to move back to L.A. where I lived for five years before heading to Vancouver. I have screenplays and TV specs completed, others in progress, and Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment universe, particularly for television writing. I may be too old in an industry that targets teens and twentysomethings, but I have only one life and I need to give everything I’ve got in trying to realize a dream.

In recent months, my parents and I have clashed during phone conversations as they’ve tried to direct my unsuccessful home renovations and hectic work schedule from that giant, overhyped piece of Oz behind the curtain: Texas. “You should...” “You should...” “You should...” The solutions are so easy. Obviously, I’m not trying hard enough.

It was refreshing when my parents barely reacted to the announcement of the upcoming career and life change. Finally. They’re willing to listen and refrain from unsolicited advice/judgment. We’ve reached the Age of Enlightenment!

Not so. When I called this weekend, we talked a few minutes about the weather and they seemed in good spirits as I wondered aloud why my sister couldn’t edit the emailed photo albums of her weekly hikes. (Does every trek warrant 200+ pictures? Ooh,...another cactus!) And then my mother turned the phone over to my father, an act that only occurs on Father’s Day and his birthday.

“So you’re thinking of moving to L.A.”

“Uh, yeah.” What was coming next?

“What happens to your pension?” He asked as though I’d never considered this circumstance in changing jobs. After all, we all remember the William Tell incident. From there, he quoted unemployment stats for California and then quizzed me on the mileage of my aging car. He mentioned the sun in California, something I have to avoid. (Oh, how had I forgotten this song?!) He reminded me I’d been shot at during my last stint in the City of Angels. (Yes. The Rodney King riots. I didn’t point out that Vancouver’s most recent riot was only three months ago. Why quibble?) And then he almost dropped a bombshell. He didn’t quite press the red button, but his fingers hovered above it. My relatively quick return to the U.S. depends on an American relative vouching for me. Might I jeopardize their retirement savings if I wound up a burden to society, writing abysmal scripts on the back of discarded bus transfer stubs on Skid Row?

I got a paper route to pay for my lost library books, didn’t I?

I let it go. I am irresponsible.

And yet the planning continues...