"Randomly selected" is a lie. We both know I look about as instigating as a girl guide, so let's not pretend you're not just meeting your quota with me to make your job easier. Snap on the gloves and let's get this over with.
I started my journey by waking up at 3:30 a.m., and grateful to have woken up at all. Last night, my brain afloat with to-do's and did-not's, I cracked my skull on the dish towel rack in my kitchen and, convinced I was concussed, played out the slow discovery of my unconscious body, beginning with my missed flight. The single person's phone tree would've been activated, until someone figured out I never log out of Facebook, so my cousin (not my mom, she'd be too distressed) would post on my behalf: "It is with heavy hearts we..." No. "We regret..." No. "Tara's in a coma. We have little hope. She packed well."
My first thought after I heard either paint cracking as the metal nearly dislodged from the wall, or bits of my forehead squishing open, was, "My face, my precious face! I have TIFF! Photographs! Making words come out of my mouth in front of other people! DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!" A gel pack and delicate finger pressings later, I had a small bimp (bumps are always the domain of Inspector Clouseau), but still no mark as of this morning. Small miracles. Bangs are also small miracles.
We all clutch our Starbucks as we're jostled by the plane on the runway for takeoff. I can't help but picture the wreckage in-the-unlikely-event-of. So many lids.
My partner in crime, Kristine, texts to say she's gotten me into two parties. I have just entered Toronto for the first time in my life and I'm juggling all the things and my lungs are slowly filling up with humidity and I wonder if I've somehow managed to survive the smog of Shanghai and yet I'll be deathly betrayed by my own country but I don't care if I have to get there with an oxygen tank, I'm going. The subway jangles along and I hop aboard a charming streetcar (that's what Toronto is to me as I bumble along: charming), that warns passengers to look out for cars before deboarding BECAUSE THEY CAN'T STOP AT THE SIDEWALK. You have to cross a line of traffic. Again, I've crossed the wild, wild streets of Beijing and it's this that gets me.
7:43 p.m.: minor hair crisis pending.
8:05 p.m;: minor hair crisis averted.
8:30 p.m.: party #1. We climb a set of stairs into the bowels of a heated beast that boasts free drinks and a lot of canapés that are meaty but I don't complain because there are wee little desserts also and HOLY SHIT ALL THIS SHIT IS FREE.
8:50 p.m.: realize I forgot to put on deodorant.
10:00 p.m.: step outside to air out everything and ponder the walk to the nearest Shoppers to buy a travel-sized deo that I will apply exactly once and throw away because it won't fit into my clutch.
Roughly 10:30 p.m.: make our way to the TIFF opening night gala. Sorry. Opening Night Gala. I am given a tiny bottle of champagne with a straw and I giggle like an idiot and Kristine, bless her, still acts as though she knows me (but wait until she sees how I react to the pyramid of rainbow Rice Krispie squares because I lose. My. Shit.)
When time becomes relative: discussion of the relevance of the Power Lunge before our epic 180-ish moving picture, tartlet, champagne bottle, tartlet, rooftop, acquisition of our film producer, tartlet, and then it's a blur of going on my epic wander like I do when I'm drunk, "explore the floors", until I realize I've made the stupid mistake of leaving prime real estate at any party and now I can't get back up on the roof and no one seems to respond to the "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM" business because I have it on my badge and they still don't care, so I have to wait for an empty elevator with the plebeians.
Kristine calls an Uber for us and I tumble into my Airbnb bed and I can't get vertical the next day until 3:30 p.m. Oh, wait...
I can't get vertical until 3:30 p.m. My wristbands are like hospital tags and never in the history of TIFFing has someone been so happy and so nauseous at the same time. I wondered briefly if I had wasted half a day, but then I thought, no; this is exactly what the experience should be. I'll get my ass outta bed at 4, and until then my podcasts and feeling of hungover accomplishment will keep me company (as they usually do).
I walked down to Festival Street and booked some tickets (again, with Kristine's help. Who IS this woman? I'd be lost without her and my experience thus far would've been more sober, but I wouldn't have gotten into these parties so you can guess where I land on that), and caught two screenings. I saw a wee little Rachel McAdams, and I trotted home around midnight in the rain and nuked some leftover Indian food.
I AM SOBER AND UNSTOPPABLE. I go for a little jog in the morning all tough and shit because YEAH it's raining but I'm from Vancouver, mofos, and I turn around about twenty minutes later because my ears burn because it's chilly.
My first of three movies of the day was up at 11:30 (Un Plus Une with the enchanting Jean Dujardin, and a wonderful director whose translator said, "Some people want to save the world...I want to save love"), and then I went to book some more tickets because HOLY SHIT ALL THIS SHIT IS FREE, but then I realized my premature excitement got the better of me and I swiftly used up all of my free pre-bookings (HOLY SHIT THIS SHIT COMES AT A PRICE AND I SHOULD'VE KNOWN AND CURSE MY HUBRIS), but that's okay because I saw two more movies today including "About Ray" where I saw wee little Susan Sarandon and Naomi Watts (but they were mostly wee because I was so goddamn far away in the balcony) and went for a lovely dinner with the lovelier Kristine and saw a bit more of the city and heard people being wacky and cute trying to see Johnny Depp. I did not see him. Some guy in a tree did, though.
I have to say that I wouldn't even be here and enjoying myself like this if it wasn't for the support of my amazing friends and family (you dear ones that are especially going above and beyond, thank you from the bottom of my heart), and for the hard-working people that got some amazingness together for our film that will premiere in mere days. There. That's my speech and I hope you heard it, because this ain't the Oscars and no one else cares about what I have to say. YET.
Tomorrow: Tara attempts alcohol again.
I don't know if we're molded by a thing, but I feel this little playdough body get pressed and twisted, and the things leaving their thumbprints are no small forces. There was the death of my father that left a pinch that'll never be smooth again, and there were strained relationships that hardened pieces of me; left out to dry and their softness is gone for good. There have been friendships and loves that have injected me with new stuff and that have permanently coloured me, and will inflate my humble veins until the whole program is ripped apart and squeezed back into the tub when I die.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that when you follow your heart and do what you love, success follows. Now, I don't know what success looks like to you; it could be rolling around in dollar bills on your bed (but you shouldn't do that 'cause it's gross), it could be a fancy enough house to warrant a table runner (that wasn't what I thought it was, either). For me, success has always meant that I could hold my ground with 8-year-old me.
See, 8-year-old me wasn't a jerk, and she wasn't judgmental. She wouldn't have cared if someone had a fancy house or piles of money (though growing up amongst affluent families in Calgary, she certainly enviously stroked her friends' velvety table runners). But she dreamed BIG. When she discovered that movies weren't actually real life (sorry to those of you that haven't caught up yet), she knew that the next best thing to living in a movie was making one. So by god, she acted her little heart out. In her bedroom, in her friends' (ridiculously spacious) bedrooms, anywhere she could invent a story for herself. I'd like to pause here and say I hope I'm not being saccharine like some actors: "Ooohhh I've been acting since I was a kid, putting on plays for my unnaturally doting family and my mother who dropped everything to schlep me to auditions the next state over" and blah, blah, blah. Okay, we get it, this is your destiny and you're honouring us with your talent. Moving on.
It was a big, wide world when you were that age, and "impossible" wasn't in your vocabulary. But in a few years, you realize it's impossible to stay that way. Responsibility creeps in, sometimes happily but most times not, and what you once dreamed for yourself becomes a sweet memory. You get little glimpses of it throughout your life, in something you smell or hear, it catches you for that SECOND, and it's gone before you can tag it. Which adds to its sweetness, I suppose. But it's gone nonetheless.
I was very fortunate to have an encouraging family, that told me not to settle for less than what I truly wanted to do in this life. So I got to carry on with my little dreams.
Today, I'm not making boatloads of money. I'm not accosted in the street and asked for my autograph (if I pay you, will you do this for me? Please?) But I'm doing what I love, and I think it shows. Because I get to do this, I'm a good person to the people around me. I've taken care of myself so I can take care of others, if and when the time comes. I put my head down to do the work, and I look up when it's done so I can feel the sun on my face. I've sacrificed, but I haven't compromised. Essentially, I'm on my way. And that, to me, is success. To me, this means I can stand before 8-year-old me without apology, and she could be proud. And then we'd go for slurpees and talk about boys.
Two projects that honoured me by choosing me to participate in them, are selections for the 2014 LAWeb Fest. I met some of my best friends doing Standard Action and Aeternus, we worked our asses off, and some people south of the border took notice. We're heading down in March to celebrate, to represent, and to take our 8-year-old selves on the town.
Thank you, my friends.