Friday, June 6, 2008

Rollin' the Dice

Yesterday, I said I should go out an get the Chinese symbol for patience tattooed on my left wrist, since I don't have any and the last time I tattooed something I had none of on my wrist I ended up, well, here.

Across my right wrist, in freehanded black and white script is the word Freelance. I got in on a Wednesday evening in April 2005. How it got there not only proves my lack of patience, but also that you can do anything you set your mind to.

In April 2005 I was unemployed. Had been for months. Zero prospects on the horizon.

I had a Psych major and an HR minor from Waterloo that I had no intention of using and had spent the better part of the previous five years as middle management for a government agency that paid me well but offered very little in the way of transferable skills. At least, that was how the people on the other side of the desk interviewing me always saw it.

The one thing I did have was a script.

See, I had written a screenplay over Christmas. I had just broken up with my girlfriend of eight months, was broke and needed somewhere to lay low, so I took refuge in the warm confines of my mother's house and her fully stocked liquor cabinet.

The script was horrible - formulaic, self-referential and predictable as hell - but completing the process showed me that I had a talent for writing. Sure it was bad, but how many people can sit down and fire off 100+ pages in a week? And if I could write a screenplay, who was to say that I couldn't write other things?

Other things became sports, as a job posting for an up-and-coming magazine based out of Toronto went from being a pipe dream to a potential reality in the span of three weeks.

Much like I still do every day, I was checking the Craigslist job board and saw a posting for writers. Still in keeping with current traditions, I flipped a quick fact-finding email to the address and expected nothing.

Twenty minutes later, I had added a guy named Frank to Messenger and we spent hours talking about this magazine he was starting and my role on the writing team. Everything sounded great.

A week later, I was in Toronto, first meeting with Frank and then sitting down at The Score with Cabral Richards* - Cabbie on the Street - to discuss his involvement in the project. Anyone who had Cabbie ready to contribute had to be legit.

The next week, my friend Chrissy and I had tickets to Coldplay at the ACC. Say whatever you want about Coldplay - I've liked them from the beginning - and no matter what Judd Apatow says, liking Coldplay does not make you gay.

Anywho, we get down to Toronto, grab dinner and a drink and walk over to the ACC. Stand in line, get to the front, guy takes our tickets...

"These are no good," he says, little scanner thingy in his handed.

"Sorry?" Chrissy nervously asks, knowing there was no way she bought counterfeit tickets from Ticketmaster.

"They're for tomorrow night. Not tonight."

Embarrassed as fuck, Chrissy stepped out of line. I followed suit, equal parts amused and annoyed. Now what the hell were we going to do, half-ass dolled up for a Coldplay show that starts in 24 hours?

"We should go get more tattoos?" I offered. The more applied to me, as Chrissy had never felt the needle.

"I'll go with you, but I'm not getting anything," she replied and the new plan of attack was laid out. All we had to do was find a tattoo shop.

We finally found a place willing to let us in the door way out in East Jesus, Nowhere. Everyone else was closing up or not interested in the $100 it would take to make my idea come to life. Lazy bastards...

After riding the couch in the waiting room talking to the owner and everyone else hanging around the shop - I'm convinced that if I came off as a douchebag they would have told me it was a no-go and sent me out the door - I jumped in a chair, rolled up my sleeve and told Anthony the plan.

"I want the word Freelance in script across my wrist," I confidently pronounced.

"How come?" shot back the second man to puncture my flesh with ink.

"My brother's name is Lance and he's up in Kingston at Millhaven doing a nickel for assault and," I couldn't get the rest out without starting to laugh. Thankfully, Anthony did too. "Actually, I want to be a writer and this is going to serve as my motivation and my daily reminder to keep writing."

"Nice man. I like that," he replied. With that, he pulled out a fine tipped marker, sketched out some lettering and went to town on my wrist.

Hugs and hand-pounds were exchanged, my wrist got all taped up to make me look like I had just tried to kill myself and we were on our way.

The next night, we saw Coldplay from the floor.

A couple days later, the magazine project was put on hold. That was two years ago.

But I had my tattoo and my tattoo was my motivation. I couldn't end up as some doofus with a tattoo that makes no sense, so I kept writing. I wrote almost every day, even when their was nothing to really write about.

It would be another nine months before another opportunity came my way.

That was Bugs & Cranks.

The rest is history in the making...

* this was how I came to meet Cabbie and since then, we've done an interview for B&C and remain in touch... that makes two good things that came out of the failed Frankly Sports project....

1 comment:

Chalk said...

Why didn't you say so before? This explains everything.