Sunday, January 21, 2007

Time for Change

Many of you know that I am Polyamorous. Since 2004, I have had two life partners: Lisa Brewer and Riin Gill. Riin is from Ann Arbor, Michigan. When we first fell in love, Riin decided she wanted to move here to Sydney, Nova Scotia to be with me, and she's been working towards that goal ever since.

That's where we ran into problems. Obviously, if she moves here, she needs to find a job, and jobs are often hard to find here. Further, even if she had a job offer already on the table, she still has to raise considerable money. Not only does she have to raise enough money for the move but also must raise $10,000.00 living expenses in order to apply for permanent residence.

The problem is, she's had a lot of trouble raising the money. She's tried cutting back everything she could think of, started up her own on-line business, Happy Fuzzy Yarn, even going so far as to ask people for donations. So far, she has raised precious little, and what little she does manage to save gets eaten up trying to get Happy Fuzzy Yarn off the ground.

When she tells people her story, she's invariably asked, "Well, can't John help you?" She tells people that I'm poor and can't afford to contribute.

The problem is, that's not true.

What she doesn't tell people is that I go out to anywhere from two to five movies a week, sometimes more. I just have to go see every new movie that comes out. Plus, I go out to dinner every week with my first life partner Lisa. This amounts to an average of $75.00-$100.00 a week (including snacks at the movies), often more.

Recently, Riin and I had a major fight. At the moment, she refuses to speak to me on the phone. She's still communicating with me through E-mail, but even that contact is limited. Our relationship is in real trouble. :(

There are many reasons behind our schism, and most of them are too personal to get into here. However, one huge thing that did come out of our last conversation is how much she resents the fact that I spend at least $200.00 a month on movies and restaurants and haven't contributed one cent to help her. Every cent of her move (and, for that matter, her visits here) comes out of her pocket.

All along, I've selfishly expected her to foot the bill for her entire move, or hoping that others will come along to help out, never once considering making any sacrifices of my own.

Now you're probably all thinking: "If you love this woman so much and you want her to move to Canada so bad, then why are you wasting all that money on movies? Why can't you give some to her? You can't expect her to do this all by herself!"

You're right. I can't. I have no excuse for how selfish I've been... but I do have an explanation.

One thing Riin and I have in common is that we both have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Riin has mentioned her OCD on many occasions in her blog. Riin and I aren't obsessive about the same things, but both of us find ourselves compelled into bad habits by our own stupid brains (as Riin might put it).

I want to be a filmmaker. I want to write and direct my own movies. While learning about the craft many years ago, one of the most inspiring and informative books I found on the subject was Writing Screenplays that Sell by Michael Hague. Now, my obsession with going to the movies began with the following quote, which appears on page 269 of that book:

The next absolutely necessary step to becoming an effective screenwiter is to learn what's going on in the industry you are pursuing. You must see every major release coming out of Hollywood.

That's exactly how that passage appears in the book, right down to the italics. Now, you can imagine what happens when the words "You must see every major release" are screamed with italics at an obsessive compulsive screenwriter...

Yup. Recipe for disaster...

You know, I knew that my idea of going to every movie came from that book, but it wasn't until I went back to the book tonight and actually read the original text that I realized how the book just screams it at you. No wonder it got so deeply embedded in my head! :(

At first, I went to the movies as an educational experience. I analyzed their act break structures, what plot devices they were using, analyzing character development, and so on. It was pretty cool, actually. At this point, I know so much about how to write and plot a movie that when I see a movie, I can not only tell you if I like or don't like it, I can tell you exactly why I like it or I don't.

The problem was, after a year of doing this, I probably knew about as much about how to write a screenplay as I'm ever going to know, or need to know. The problem was, by then I was caught in an obsessive compulsive rut, feeling like I just had to see every movie that came out because the book told me to...

Now here I am, some five years or more later, still going out to see every movie. It's gotten to the point now where I actually resent the amount of time and money that movies take up. I even complain to people when so many new releases come out together in one week. Yet, despite that, I just feel like I must keep doing it...

I originally started doing this to learn to write screenplays, yet now I'm going out to movies so much, I don't even have time to write a screenplay.

How stupid is that? :(

Well, those days are over.

Starting next weekend, with the exception of the Cape Breton Island Film Series (for which Lisa already bought me a full season pass for Christmas) and WWE Pay Per Views, I will be going to no more movies in the theater until Riin "comes home" to Canada.

Further, every weekend, I'm going to look at the movies coming out, calculate how much I would have spent at the movies that week (including an estimate of the amount of snacks we would have eaten there) and put it in my savings account. Then, on the 23rd of every month, I will take everything I saved that month and contribute it all to Riin's Please Help Me Move to Canada fund.

That alone should help her quite a bit. I'm also gonig to look into ways to cut down on the amount I eat out. As we can't cook worth crap, that'll be a little harder, but I'll figure out something.

Either way, I can't afford to go on being selfish. I'm on the verge of losing someone I love dearly due to nothing more than my own apathy and stupidity.

I love you, Riin. I'm sorry I've been so selfish. I won't let you down like that again.

I promise.

When you're ready to talk, I'm here.