I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Monday, November 23, 2009


I go to look at the van on Friday night and it's great. It dives like a new car and, other than a cracked windshield, a dent near the rear wheel well, and a vandalized passenger door lock that left the auto lock on that side not working (but still can reach over and lock/unlock manually) it's in great shape. So I leave a deposit with the promise to come back on Monday so she has time to take out the stereo and clean it her gear out. She won't get her other car till next week and I don't mind waiting, Christopher has loaned me his jeep for the weekend.

Saturday I take my time getting ready in the morning... I spend a couple of hours looking online for jobs... and then at about two in the afternoon I leave for the East Vancouver Cultural Crawl. A friend invited me and he and his wife will be participants. He lives in a building called The Arc, and it is owned by a corporation that wants to encourage the arts. So what they have done is convert a large industrial space with seven floors into about 70 loft apartments and then rent them out to people in the arts. It can be any sort of art.... visual, performing, music... and you have to audition to get in. Then, because they expect that you will use part of the space to work in, you get to write 70% of it off as working space. It's a great concept. Anyway, this building, and about a hundred other places, open their doors once a year for three days and the public is free to wander from space to space and view the art each person has put on display.

I wanted Ashleigh and Rob to come with me, I thought they'd love it being that they are both very artistic, but they have other plans. So I go by myself. It's times like this I really miss being half of a couple. It's just not anywhere nearly as much fun to do things like this alone. But, I put my game face on and make the most of it. And I really enjoyed it. I never made it to any other building than The Arc - it took me the better part of four hours to go through just that. The talent was amazing. There was everything from painters to potters to sculptors in wire, fabric art, an fx guy for the film business, a model sculptor for film, a children's entertainer, metalworkers, photography, jewelry.... just everything you can think of. It was a feast for the eyes and I really enjoyed it. Plus, besides Filip, the guy who invited me, and his wife - both whom I have worked with in movies, I saw the actress I just worked with in Victoria - she was there to look around, as well as a wardrobe guy and a fx guy who both live in the building that I have recently worked with. So that was really nice.

Sunday I start thinking about what I am going to do if I don't get any work and am thinking about the very real possibility of having to live in my van. I begin doing some research online and I find that there are quite a few people who have taken to living in their vehicles! I am so surprised. There's even a Yahoo group for them. I read through blogs and posts and looking at photos of how they did their conversions. There's everything from mini-vans to 1 ton box trucks. Some of the layouts are ingenious. But two things are apparent to me. Three actually. One; it's going to take at least $500 to convert my van. Two: I am going to need to drive south to a warmer climate for winter unless I want to be miserable for months. And three; I am going to need more money than I have. I will still need to pay for insurance and gas for the van, not to mention food, cell phone and incidentals. What I need is for either my script to sell or the insurance guy to call me back with a decent settlement for my fall. Or, if I sell everything I can't fit into the van, that might give me enough to live on for a while.

The thought of selling everything I own but what I can fit into a van comfortably is intriguing, kind of exciting, but scary as well. I have a LOT of stuff. Even after paring down drastically over the past year or so, I still have a LOT of stuff. And the thoughts of going through it all and trying to decide what I really need and what I don't is daunting. Hugely daunting. And, to be brutally honest, I am not the bohemian type. I'm not the sort to let my hair go gray and let it grow long enough to put in a pony tail for convenience sake. I don't need many clothes because, even though I have what I consider a lot, I go to the same favoured pieces over and over and the rest just hang there unless its a special occasion. I could pare down the clothes no problem. Shoes... yes but would still probably want to take more than could fit in the allotted shoe space. Books would be a problem. I have some I just won't part with. Same with my DVD collection. I wouldn't have TV so it would be nice to have them along to watch on my laptop (although I did see a setup where a guy had a flat screen TV and speakers set up on the wall of his mini-van in a panel he made to go over one of the back windows - ingenious!!). I have a few souvenirs I have picked up in my limited travels that I would want to keep, but they are all small. Also, I would need a proper mattress as my back wouldn't last without it, but I think that would work. A twin wouldn't take up the whole back, would it? I will have to measure and see. One setup I saw had the mattress on a platform with Rubbermaid drawers beneath the whole length and about three drawers high. Great idea.

I head over to Starbucks to continue my online browsing, as the internet is messing up at my girlfriends and keeps shutting down. I go to the one where I met a really nice man a week ago. The only comfy chair left was across from him. I asked if it was free and he said it was. I told him I had just gone to the other Starbucks down the end of the road but it was packed to the gills. I sat down and we got to chatting. He told me that his wife died about two years ago and that he lived in a condo in White Rock but was here to look for a house to be closer to his kids and to get a big garage for all of his 'toys'. Turns out he has a Miata, a motorcycle and his truck. He told me he had taken a trip across Canada on his bike this past summer. We had a great chat for about an hour and I really liked him. When he got up to leave, I hoped he would ask me for my number but he didn't, saying instead, "Maybe I will see you again. I am down here a lot." and, stupid me, I didn't offer my number. I am just not that forward. So now I am back and hoping he is here, but he isn't. And, today, this one is crowded so I leave and head to the one at the other end of the road.

Monday morning I spend more time applying for jobs online. It's soul destroying work. I apply at Starbucks to be a manager. I don't know if they will hire me for that position, they didn't want me as a barista when I told them I don't drink coffee. HA! Can't imagine why. But maybe as a manager it won't matter as much.

I send off an email to the PM for the show that is supposed to be back in the offices to day. He writes back saying that they aren't back this week either and he has no idea if it's even going ahead anymore, but if it is it won't start shooting until December 7th at the earliest. I am thinking it's time to call my friend and tell him I won't be taking the suite. It's a call I dread making.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Asheigh's not allergic to prawns. She had an extensive allergy test and wasn't allergic to any food, just a lot of plants and dust. So what was it that triggered that reaction, I wonder?

I realize, reading over past posts, that the last one doesn't make much sense because I forgot to write about finding a suite one day back in September. I was at my friends house and she was asking me what I was going to do for a place to live and I said I had no idea. We started to look in the local paper and I made some calls and found a suite right on her street! We walked over to take a look at it, she said we couldn't be more than ten minutes because she had two cousins coming over for some curly willow from her tree. The suite was tiny and I told the sweet old couple that I would let them know. On the walk back we could see that her cousins were just backing up into the driveway. When we got there my friend explained that we had just gone to see about a suite for me. One of them perked up and said 'I have a suite for rent.' She told me that it was huge and it went for $700 a month, utilities included. She asked if I was interested and I said I was. So I agreed to help collect the willow and load it into the truck and then follow them back to her place to take a look at it. As I was loading an armful of willow, my friend came up and told me that the suite was gorgeous and that her husband had put in custom cabinets. I was excited.

When we got there, the house was gorgeous and so was the suite. It was HUGE with more than enough room for all of my furniture, and a big storage room that would easily hold my Christmas stuff and other bits. I told her that I loved it and I would take it. She said 'great', and took me back upstairs and told her husband, 'Sandy loves it and is going to take it.' He said 'great', and then we talked about moving in and perhaps the current occupants, her relatives, might move out before December first and, if so, I could take it sooner. I told her that would be great but December first was fine and I left her my business card so that she could call me if it came free sooner. That was how we left it, so that was why I was so shocked when I called her to let her know I would be moving in December first because I hadn't heard back from her about an earlier time.

On to current events...

Right after I hang up from her telling me the suite is rented to her nephew, I call a friend who had contacted me two weeks prior to tell me his suite was available December first if I was interested. I had told him I had a place already, but thanked him for thinking of me. I now ask him if it is still available and he says it is and I say I would love to take it but the price is out of my reach. He says that he and his wife will talk about lowering the rent and asks if I would come over the next day to talk with them about it. The next day, over a cup of tea, we come to an agreement on rent, more than I want to pay at $900 and not including utilities, but they came down from their advertised price of $1,100 a month - which there is no way I could afford. I write them a cheque dated December first for the first month's rent.

I have no car and so my son has loaned me his. He just bought an old Jeep for work and so has let me use his Jetta. I walk out in the rain to the car, relieved to have a place to live.

Driving away, I am both relieved to have a place but also anxious about finding work so I can afford it. Earlier this week I had gone for an interview for a movie and the director was great and we seemed to connect but he also has a friend who script supervises and is pulling to hire that person. The producer wants me on the job, but unfortunately for me, the director gets to choose. So I am hoping that either his choice isn't available or that the producer talks him into hiring me. If I don't get this gig, or another to replace it, then I can't move into the suite. But I have secured it and that gives me some peace of mind. And I am hopeful about the show.

I don't hear back from the production so I give them a call. The Production Manager tells me that he hasn't heard anything from the director yet, that it's a bit soon. Soon? I don't realize till I hang up that it's two weeks today to shooting. I should be breaking down the script this week. He tells me if he doesn't call me by Thursday evening to give him a call Friday morning. I don't hear so I call Friday morning and he tells me no one is around, that they are all on a survey. He says he will call me Monday. Over the weekend I meet with a friend who is working on the show. She tells me that, due to some funds not arriving for the production, everyone has Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off and so I am not going to hear anything until Thursday. This is so not good. I need to know if I am moving into the suite so that I can let them know and they can find someone else in time for me to get my money back. If they don't find someone, I will lose $900 and that's almost half of all I have in the bank. I start to panic.

On Wednesday I get a text from my friend telling me that they won't be back in the office until Monday now. They still haven't got the missing funds. Meanwhile, I am spending all day, every day, on the computer looking for work - any work I feel I am qualified to, or capable of, doing. I send of resume after resume, praying that one of them will stick. The thoughts of working in an office again fills me with dread. But I have to do something. I apply at some retail places as well, even though the pay is total crap. Anything is better than nothing at this point. I start to think about moving up to Kelowna. My daughter there is not happy with her room mates and is wanting to move out but can't afford a place on her own. If we shared a place, her rent would stay low and mine would certainly be a lot lower. I look for jobs in Kelowna and apply for the only one that suits. I send my daughter an email proposing the idea and she emails me back saying it wouldn't be easy to move in with 'mom' after all this time but she will think about it. We talk about it later, on the phone and it's an option. But I'd have to have work before I would make the move.

I am not sleeping well, unusual for me. I wake up too early and for a few moments I feel peaceful and then my reality hits me and my guts start churning, my chest gets tight and my mind starts spinning. I end up in the bathroom, my nerves having their way with my insides yet again, and either stumble back to bed to lie in the dark and fight down waves of panic and despair or go to the computer to see if maybe anything has happened that changes things for me. Nothing so far.

My friend who I am staying with wants to talk to me, so we sit in the basement media room, where I spend most of my day looking for work, and she tells me that this isn't working for her. I was supposed to be here three weeks and it's been six. I did ask her if staying until December first was okay and she said it was. But if I don't take the place in December because of no work, I can't stay on longer. It bothers her to see me like this, stressed out and unhappy, and to know I am down in the basement all day. I have been trying to stay out of her way so that her routine isn't disrupted. I know she has a very precise way of living her life and I didn't want my presence in the kitchen or upstairs too much to be a problem. But it seems that my staying out of her way has been the problem. Also, I don't stay in the basement all day. Most days if I have a car, I go out to either meet with friends or spend some time in a coffee shop on the computer. I hate being alone, I am not a loner, so getting out helps me a lot. But she doesn't know this because I am here when she leaves and, more than half the time, here when she gets home.

So now I am faced with being well and truly homeless come the end of November. And I don't even have a car to live in. I have been looking on Cragislist for a cheap car but everything I see is either too expensive or a pile of junk. I gave up the quest two weeks ago. I start to look again, for a minivan so I can sleep in it if it comes to that. I find one for $700, a '95 Ford Windstar. The photo shows it's in great shape. And it sounds like it's been kept up. I write to the woman and offer her $500. She says she just posted it yet will accept my offer, but will take out the stereo that is worth almost as much. I tell her that's fine. She says she drives it to work every day and that it's reliable and had regular maintainance. It will need brakes in eight months or so and has a cracked windshield. I tell her that I will probably take it but want to come and see it. She later emails me and tells me that she has had lots of interest in it and isn't sure she wants to sell it for $700 but whoever is first there with the cash takes it. I email back asking if I am there with $500 do I get it or is it the first with $700. She writes back and says that she told me $500 and she will honor that, and asks for my phone number to call me that night.

She calls me and tells me that I have first rights to buy it at $500 and, as she needs time to remove the stereo and get her new car - she inherited from a relative and won't get it until Monday or Tuesday - I have to the weekend to give her a deposit and then pay the rest when I pick it up at the beginning of next week. I tell her that's great and I will see her soon.

I feel like I have gotten a great deal because any minivan I have seen for that price has either been much older or not running. I put out a notice asking my friends for a ride over the bridge to go see the car either Thursday or Friday. One replies that she can take me Friday night.

I start to panic about buying the car. It's half of what I have left in the bank after that rent cheque comes out. Taxes and insurance will be another $200. That leaves me $300. Not much at all. But I need a vehicle to get to work if I find a job. Especially if I take the suite because it's not anywhere near a bus route. And I might have to end up living in my car... and if I don't have a car ... I can't imagine living on the street but what other choice do I have?

No one looking at me would ever believe that I am reduced to this, yet here I am. I feel like I have lost everything I have worked so hard for since my divorce. I am worse off now than I was then, and it was pretty bad back then. Yet, if it wasn't for the goodness of a few friends, I would have been on the street last year this time. I haven't gone without a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, or food yet. I am trying to hold on to the shred of hope and faith I have left. But it is just the smallest of shreds and sometimes I can't find it.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I was out for lunch with a friend who does props and she was telling me about a show coming up that she had just interviewed for. Turns out the producer is the same one I saw when I was up in Kelowna, Christine, and we are on great terms. So I texted her right then and told her that I was available and wanted to do the show. I didn't get a reply so when I got home I emailed her. I got a reply right away that she would bring me in for an interview.

I had the interview yesterday and it seemed to go really well. The director, who is also the writer, is a very young looking 33 and this is his first directing gig. I should hear by early next week.

Earlier this week I was thinking I should contact the couple who own the house with the basement suite I went to see a few weeks ago, as I hadn't heard from them and they had said they would let me know if the current occupants were going to move out earlier than November 30th. So I called yesterday and left a voice mail message for them.

I just got a call from her. She said that they had rented the suite out to their nephew instead. WHAT???? I was absolutely gob smacked and had no words for a long pause. Then I said, 'WHAT?' she repeated that they had a nephew who wanted it so he was moving in. 'But... but... I said I'd take it. I walked through, loved it, told you I loved it, and said I wanted it. You said that was great.' 'Well it was our understanding that we would let you know.' 'No. NO.' I replied, 'I said I would take it. You said great. You said it might come free sooner than December first. I said that would be wonderful if it did, but I would take it either way. I left you my card. You said you'd be in touch. I hadn't heard so I thought I should call. But my understanding was, it was mine.' 'No.' she said, 'That wasn't what we understood.' 'How could you understand anything different? I said I'd take it, you said ok.' She said that their nephew wanted it so he was taking it. 'Well a call to me would have been in order, don't you think?' "Oh well... I lost your card. I didn't even think of you again." Oh REALLY? Lovely. Just lovely.

What is the matter with people????

And what the HELL is going on in my universe???

Monday, November 2, 2009


I think I have said it before but it bares repeating: I have a love-hate relationship with film work.

Back in the spring a script supervisor friend on the island recommended me for a shoot. An eight day production that was to shoot all nights inside a diner that, because it would be open for business during the day, wouldn't go for more than ten hours. The production manager subsequently contacted me, it was her first production, and said she would love to have me on board and that she would let me know when the date was set. I didn't hear anything for a while and then she wrote to say that, due to lack of funding, the production would be pushed to August.

You know what went on with me between spring and August if you've read this blog from the beginning. August I received another email from her asking if I was still available. I was in Kelowna but needing work and so told her I was. 'Great!' she said and told me she would get back to me as to a date. Again, due to some issue or other, she wrote to inform me that it was pushed to October. I pretty much wrote it off at that point.

Mid October my friend on the island wrote to ask if I was still available to do it, and that it looked like they were finally going ahead on November 2. I was just finishing up Sins of the Mother and so wrote back and said that I was indeed available. The PM wrote me and told me that they were finally ready to go ahead and had a set date for November 2nd. I said I would be happy to do it. She sent me the script again, as I had deleted it back in August, and I began to prepare my breakdown. I also asked her about accommodations as I need my own room and often they want you to share. She writes to assure me that she will be booking me my own room in the Marriott in downtown Victoria.

I am done my first reading and am about to start my timing when a thought occurs to me... I never made sure she was paying me for two breakdown days. It is assumed when you are working with seasoned PM's but she is brand new at this so I need to make sure, so I send off an email asking about that and also for the 1st Assistant Directors paperwork as it helps me with my breakdown. I get an email back from her and she doesn't say anything about breakdown days but she does say that the 1st AD just left to do another show and that they are looking for a replacement and should have one soon. A small red flag waves in my brain, but this is just an eight day gig and so it's conceivable that he or she would leave if a longer and better paying job was offered, so I ignore it.

A couple of days later I send off an email and let her know that I will be arriving on November 1st, and to please have my room at the Marriott booked for Sunday night and ask them if it can be on a higher floor at the end of the hall. As I will be sleeping during the day, this should be the quietest option. Two days go by and I don't receive a reply. My instinct instantly tells me this is not a good sign. We are just over two weeks away from me heading over there. I send her another email saying that I have sent her a couple of emails and haven't received a reply so can she send me her phone number and I will give her a call. I don't hear anything back.

I am out for lunch with a friend from the business when I get a call from a production company that is looking for a script supervisor. They ask me if I am available and I hesitate and then say, "Yes, I am." He tells me that they are shooting in Squamish starting November 2nd and that they aren't putting any of the crew up so I would have to commute. It's a two hour drive from Langley, three with rush hour traffic. I tell him I live in Langley and he says it doesn't matter. I either commute or pay for my own hotel. I ask if it is mostly outdoor shooting and he says it is. This is not a show I want to do. November, in Squamish, all outdoors. It will be freezing. Also it's called 'Behemoth' so there will be lots of special effects shots and probably green screen. Not my favourite stuff to shoot. And paying for my own hotel will cost a weeks wages. I tell him that I have another show that has asked me and it's the same start date so I will have to check with them first to make sure they are going ahead and I will get back to him.

When I get home I look up the island PM on the internet and find a phone number for her business. I call and am put through to voice mail. I leave a message and ask for her to call me. A day goes by and I hear nothing so I write to her again. Nothing. After a couple of days I phone and leave another message. Now I am almost sure this is not going to turn out well. That evening I see an email from her and open it up, hoping for good news but expecting bad. She tells me that they might push the production two days to allow for some rehearsals so not to come over on Sunday until I hear from her, but that the show is definitely going ahead. She writes that she will know for sure by Sunday - one week before I am to leave and asks for my phone number and she will call me on Sunday with definite dates. I call the other show and tell them 'thanks but I am doing another show'.

Sunday comes and goes, no phone call. Monday morning same thing. I write to her on Monday afternoon and tell her that I have turned another show down because I committed to November 2nd for her so if we are pushing more than two days I need to know. I get an email back from her telling me that she will 'know shortly'. I wait a day and when I get no reply I write again and ask what is going on. She replies that they are having problems with 'immigration' and that they don't know when it will be ironed out so she is 'cutting me loose' to look for another show.

I have been dangled on this string for almost three weeks. It's inconsiderate and has cost me another show that, granted was less than ideal and I really wouldn't enjoy doing but, was three weeks of work instead of eight days and I need the money to carry me through the dry days of December to March. Also, I am now thinking her cutting me loose means that, should she go ahead with this anytime soon, she will look for someone else and that would not be cool at all. So I write to her and tell her that when she has a locked in date, to give me a call and if I am not on another show I will still do it. She writes back and says she will call me. I am not holding my breath.
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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