I know I said in last year’s post that 2019 was going to be my biggest year yet, and while it was indeed the biggest year ever, 2020 will be even better. Just like last year, I’ve outlined my goals below to make 2020, The Year of the Gagnon.
Today, I was gobsmacked with a wave of nostalgia. I went to a new restaurant for my office’s lunch run, Belcampo, on 3rd Street in LA, and it was there (in the Verve coffee shop next door) where I spent many a day typing away at my creative endeavors. Whether the focus was My Cancer Story, a screenplay, or the then-numerous blog posts (yeah, sorry about that), I spent my free time (of which I had ample supply then) ticking away at my form of expression. On November 8th, it will have been three years since I moved into my first apartment here, the temporary room rental on Blackburn Ave.
While I never heard Donald Wade utter these words, I live by them each and every day. Sometimes to a fault; I’m hard on myself because I know those hours I sneak away watching mindless YouTube Videos don’t add to my career, but nevertheless, I’m maximizing my efficiency daily.
When I moved out to Los Angeles two years ago, it was to begin a chain reaction of goals in which to accomplish. I spent over a decade of my life post-cancer doing little regarding creativity or towards a profession. Sure, I went to school for four of those years and made some films, but the momentum from the education stalled, and I was left to wander aimlessly.
In fact, I hadn’t realized it had been five weeks since my last post until I sat down to write this cry for creative sanity. I’m not even certain how this post will do considering Facebook recently ruined the ability to hotlink automatically from WordPress.
Sure, I’ve been chipping away at the My Cancer Story rewrite when I’m able (the now vacant tentpole of this blog for two years), and I’ve been recording notes and elements for other projects (as I’m wont to do), but this past month has been one of the busiest ever let alone since I’ve moved to Los Angeles. I’m living my dream, but if I’m not too careful, I’ll tumble backward into someone else’s.
Just when I thought that my creative juices had evaporated, I discovered yet another outlet. I was evolving into an allegorical electrician, and at the same time, a fundamental change in my health insurance threatened the fragile layer surrounding my internal wiring.
Eastern Maine Medical Center changed their insurance providers so they wouldn’t have to pay as much of the frontloaded costs. The new company offered a $1,000 “Choice Fund” at the start of each year ($2,000 for families). This ostensibly optimistic offering paid one hundred percent of any bills up front, and after, it was exhausted, then the policyholder would pay one hundred percent until their deductible was met. Then, and only if the person spent past their deductible, the insurance company would pay the expected eighty percent.
Traditionalism had never been my forte, whether via my recent marriage or the content we produced in The Guttersnipes. Our comedy troupe had been releasing some solid work and some mediocre work. I could tell that something was missing from these ideas, and I was adamant that it was the lack of a proper script framework. Ideally, to me, I thought if we had better prepared for the shoot, then maybe the quality would have been better.
Others in the group loved the improvisational approach to our comedic voice, and instead, questioned my edits or my contribution to shooting the videos. The improvisation wasn’t the issue for me, I just wanted a stronger framework around it to enable a more efficient workflow with the little time we had. Both arguments wanted the same thing: a better product. We were like the Hatfield and the McCoy’s facing off against one another without actually sitting down to listen to one another. The majority of the members stayed out of the tussle or never voiced their concerns (to me) directly.
Once we got engaged, Deirdre and I began our humble planning phase. Actually… Deirdre handled the majority of it because I was so busy with school and my projects, but still, we had open discussions about the guest list, the location, and our wedding party. We decided to keep our guest list to a minimum, all the while looking for the cheapest location we could muster. We didn’t care to have a “formal” wedding with a wedding party and all…
Okay, truthfully, I had wanted a minor semblance of that. I had always envisioned Shawn, Travis, and Jason in our own version of Frank the Tank’s wedding in Old School. Shawn would be the Vince Vaughn to my Will Ferrell, and it would be hilarious, and Deirdre’s and my version of “traditional.”
As busy as I had proved to be, I wanted to do more to help others who were currently fighting their own cancer battles. It was another reason for my existence beyond those four colorless walls, and yes, it satiated my Survivor’s Guilt– but I personally wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for my visitor, Mitch. And sure enough there was only one thing holding me back; I thought that oh too toxic thought: “I don’t know how.”
Luckily, I was asked by one of my former nurses to speak to a patient that was upstairs combating the children’s version of Leukemia, ALL. I had a brief moment of pause, not because she asked me to do it, but I wondered how I would navigate such a conversation with a fifteen-year-old. I was almost twenty-five, and I felt too far removed from my childhood. Then I thought of Tori, the girl in the hospital that was from Presque Isle. I seemed to talk with her just fine, and she was only fifteen then, so I decided to keep it simple. After my lapse in judgment, I said, “Yes, I’ll meet David.”
With that essay, I handily won the Brian K. Welch scholarship and with it, a renewed desire to reacquaint myself with my passion. Around the same time, a wonderful employee at NESCom informed me of an annual poem collective called “Crosscut,” which was accepting submissions. I hadn’t been focused on poems much lately, but I knew that it would be a welcomed reprieve from my Photoshop and video projects.
I wrote four for the book and believe it or not, two were accepted! I was overjoyed with their literal acceptance of my work! To me, it was a validation that my entire career wasn’t a fluke! Three of the poems had rhymed, and for the fourth, I played with the notion of revision, forcing myself NOT to rhyme. Here are the four I had submitted (the latter two of which, were chosen):