Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hope Everyone Has a Safe and Fun Halloween!

Unfashionista Me

The possibility of hors d’oeuvres had me running - dodging raindrops (unsuccessfully) as well as bike couriers and speeding buses (successfully). My stupid umbrella was useless.

Curiosity coupled with the desire to meet someone famous – someone I grew-up watching on TV - had me running to The Bay department store in downtown Victoria, BC. My death-defying race was in the name of fashion, and unfashionista me HAD to be there.

But hors d'oeuvres weren't the the only thing on my mind. I was racing to catch a glimpse of Jeanne Beker.

For all you unfashionistas out there, Jeanne Beker has hosted the Canadian produced show, Fashion Television, for 25 years. Television, journalism, and fashion design have her travelling the world, rubbing elbows with and interviewing the who’s who in the fashion world. Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the show, Jeanne is currently promoting her new fashion line, EDIT, which brought her to The Bay that rainy day in downtown Victoria.

I grew-up watching the Canadian fashion icon. As a teenager I loved watching the show, but I had no interest in fashion - and still don’t. But it has always intrigued me - this other world so seemingly unattainable to suburban little me.

I haven’t watched the show since, and though the years of motherhood and working have made watching daytime TV next to impossible, I occasionally flick through channels, see her on some flashy-splashy fashion show and think “Hey, there’s Jeanne Beker!”

Spurned by the need to meet her (and heck, I’m always up to meet someone famous!), I raced through the doors of the department store, only to be met with rows of empty chairs and staff already dismantling the stage and lighting.

I missed the whole thing.

One of the staff, with her chic black outfit and coiffed hair, must have noticed my slumped shoulders and pitiful wet hair. Ignoring (thankfully) my unfashionista appearance, she told me Jeanne Beker was in a press conference and would be out shortly…if I wanted to wait, that is.

Well, HECK! Of course I would want to!

I grabbed a commemorative “25th Anniversary FT” magazine, and sat in the glossy white chairs previously set up for the fashion show, and waited.

Like an unfashionista dork.

I dug in my purse (straight from the shelves of Wal-Mart) for a pen, readying for an autograph should I be so lucky. With my hair now a-frizz from the run in the rain, and my crappy umbrella dripping on the uber-shiny marble floor, I knew I didn’t fit in.

But my fleece jacket was only 6 years old, and heck, it was in great shape!

Regardless, every inch of me screamed UNFASHIONISTA.

I waited, watching all the bustle and nervous flutter, everyone anxious for her re-emergence from the press-conference. When the bustling increased, signalling Jeanne’s presence, the kind staff person discretely waved me over.

I ‘glided’ towards her, all the while screaming at myself “Down Lisa, don’t act like an idiot. Walk like you OWN the catwalk. You ARE a fashionista.”

As I gracefully approached, the staff person indicated to Jeanne I had been waiting a while and would like to meet her. Oh great, now she thinks I am an unfashionista STALKER. Thankfully she left out the part about my crappy, dripping umbrella.

No one mentioned my hair.

I introduced myself, we shook hands, and Jeanne's smile was as big and gracious as I had seen on TV. Not once did she give me the 'once-over;' not at my hair, my ancient jacket, nor my $10.00 purse – none of it. She autographed the magazine and posed for a photo with grace and class, all the while chatting to me as if I was one of ‘them.’

It didn’t matter that I didn’t fit in. I didn’t want to anyways. I was me, and that was all she saw. I was, and am, happy being my unfashionista self.

But damnit! I missed the hors d’oeuvres!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Writing Within the Pizza Box

Your stomach growls. You know what you want. And not the frozen kind, either. The real thing. Steaming. Filling. Fulfilling. Heavy and hearty with all the good stuff. It’s indulgent – satisfying, and only the best kind won’t end up as leftovers the next day. All in a cardboard box.


The base comes first – thin crust, thick crust – the yeast has created the heaviest, richest dough. The plot. Your idea has grown, risen, creating a base from which to start.

The sauce – the glue of the idea – is what separates the base from the ingredients, yet holds it together. Marrying the ingredients with the dough – enhancing the flavour of the ingredients. Sometimes spicy, yet sometimes mild, and sometimes not always the favourite but always smooth and rich. Rich and perfect grammar and punctuation is necessary.

Countless ingredients, or words, to choose from, seemingly thrown together. But when in the right combination can be a masterpiece. Choose those ingredients wisely – some don’t go well together, some do. It’s the writer’s job to decide and play with what works in epicurean harmony together. The right chef can create magic.

If you’re lucky, the delivery guy, chef, agent, critic, or editor hasn’t messed up your order; changed it to something that you didn’t intend. If so – and at a risk, mind you – send it back. Rewrite. Start over. You’ll be starving and anxious while you wait, but the wait for perfection will be worth it – sometimes they know what’s best. But stay true to your heart, true to what you want, in your writing. You know what you want, what you crave. But be willing to try something new. Be open to change.

You open the box – the steam and saliva-inducing smell rewards you. You think “This is IT!” – perfection. But you look closer. Grease pooling between the olives needs to be dabbed with a napkin – excess words that might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but contribute nothing to your story except boosting your already fragile, yet hungry, ego, need to go. Those olives, onions and anchovies are too much. Like editing, you painstakingly pick out each unwanted bit. But remember, it’s in the name of perfection.

Sometimes you need to put those olives in – it’s what the editor wants. It won’t completely RUIN everything, but give them a try. Who knows, you might like it, and want more next time.

As the hot cheese dribbles on your chin, then burns the roof of your mouth, don’t worry. The pain will go away. Criticism, self-doubt, and rejection all sting – but within time, the burn heals, and you learn from it. You are ready for next time.

And then you open the next box, anxious and starving to try again, and dive in.

Don't forget the antacids.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Unveiling of "Our Emily" - October 13, 2010

With high hopes of free cake and chocolate, I ran through the streets of downtown Victoria, BC, with autumn leaves swirling in my wake.

Blinded by sunlight, I tripped through the gardens at the Empress Hotel, not only hoping for a sugar-high (as advertised in that mornings’ newspaper), but to also witness the unveiling of the statue made in honour of iconic artist and writer, Emily Carr. It was perfect weather for a most historic event.

I bustled through Girl Guides, local dignitaries, band members of the Reynolds Secondary School Band, and the “Three Emily’s” - all present to make the day even more special than it already was. I forged on, my desperation for cake and chocolate still present, and I was met with countless Emily fans shielding their eyes from the sun. Folks from all ages leaned on fences, peered through bushes, and sat on the grass in front of the stage waiting for action (the gardeners won’t be too happy).

I plowed my way through the crowd, watched the fabulous cake being wheeled out (stomach grumbling), and sweated it with the chefs as they transferred the artistically decorated cake from the dolly to the serving table. Oh wait! There is juice too! And with cut-up lemons! What a day this will be!

Continuining to where the statue sat veiled at the corner of Belleville and Government Street, kitty-corner to the Legislative Building, I was met with yet another crowd. Parts of the street had been closed-off, making room for us Emily fans. Although drivers honked and whistled (they didn’t have a clue what was going on), the avid followers and admirers of one of the city’s most revered artists waited patiently, many on tip-toe, straining to get a glimpse of the statue still under wraps.

When speeches were done, members from the Reynolds Secondary School Band led the dignitaries to the statute, madly playing their instruments while elbowing onlookers out of the way.

The “Three Emilies” made their way to the statue, and the paparazzi readied themselves. We novice paparazzi pushed forward, readying our own cameras, anxious to get a decent shot - even if someone`s head was in the way.

“The Emily’s” in question dressed in garments as portrayed in photos of their heroine. These girls had it down pat. They posed, smiled and chatted most patiently. Evident from their ever-present grins, their “Emily” spectacles glinting in the sun, it was clear they love what they do. One “Emily” works at Emily Carr’s house on Government Street. The second, from Calgary, was used as a body model for the creation of the statue. And the third “Emily,” as I was told, has portrayed Emily Carr on Broadway for 45 years.

Once everyone was in place, the paparazzi took aim and the bronze statue, created by Barb Paterson of Edmonton, AB, was unveiled. We cheered, clapped, 'oohed' and 'ahhed,' and yet again, fought to get the perfect picture - but not before we sang the national anthem.

And yes, on the street corner.

I had to continue with my day, and with the line-ups for cake and chocolate too long for my stomach to wait, I left the festivities weak with hunger and low on sugar. But aside from my gluttonous ways, I was thrilled and proud to have been part of history - just a few blocks away from the house where Emily Carr was born.

One of the fabulous cakes created.

(for more information on artist and writer Emily Carr, visit

Friday, October 1, 2010

How Rick Springfield Saved Me from Dying of a Heart Attack

(Anyone who has known me since I was 12 (age revealing) is likely very appalled I haven’t, as yet, devoted at least one opus to my hero – Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome himself – Mr. Rick Springfield. I am not a crazy stalker fan, so don’t go thinking the movie MISERY or something – I am just...well....ya know...)

Comfy in my well-worn pyjamas, I lay in bed the other night sleepless with anticipation, for the release date of Rick Springfield’s memoir, ‘Late, Late at Night,’ was only days away (swoon). The whole morning of Oct 12th played out in my head: being at the bookstore right at 9:30 a.m., racing past the throngs of other women, snatching my copy, then bounding to the cash register in glee, cackling - “You snooze, YOU LOSE, Ladies!”


I lay there hyperventilating, sweating, my left arm suddenly in pain.... OH SAVE ME! I’m having a heart attack and I never even had the chance to read the book!!! OH the despair! OH THE AGONY!

I rolled over, fumbling for the picture of Rick on my nightstand – I wanted his face to be the last I saw before I died. (The irony that my beloved husband’s name is Rick is not lost on me.)

Wait a second....

I was just lying on my arm funny.

As I wasn’t dying of a heart attack, I calmly and rationally devised a plan; I would run to the bookstore the next morning and ask if copies had been ordered. Simple. All is not lost – yet. Sighing in relief with my new-found plan, I hummed “Jessie’s Girl” to soothe myself to sleep, the guitar solo the last thing I remembered as I floated into blissful Springfield-dreamland (more swooning).

9:30 the next morning couldn’t come soon enough; the morning dragged torturously at work. Finally it was 9:29, and out the door I ran.

I flew through the doors of the bookstore, and with my purse tucked like a football under my arm, I James-Bond-dive-rolled past the dilly-dallying browsers - “MOVE it PEOPLE! I am on a MISSION HERE!”

I grabbed the first clerk I could find, and dragged her to the computer begging her to tell me they had ordered copies. As she fumbled with keys and touch-screen commands (oh COME ON, THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE I wanted to scream), she shook her head “Um, no, it doesn’t look like we will be getting any in.”

Hyperventilating and sweating (again), this time my arm really DID hurt (note to self - paper bags and nitroglycerin for my purse). I could barely see her computer through my tears when, as she continued typing, his face on the book cover filled the screen. “Oh wait! Here we are.” she confirmed confidently. “We DO have 11 copies on order, and they will be ready for purchase on October 12th.”

I collapsed on the floor, hugging her legs and wailing in gratitude. Although still hyperventilating and sweating, my arm (oddly enough) stopped hurting as my purse clunked to the floor, everything inside spilling out.



Um.....I was carrying around my purse.

A drumstick rolled under the bookshelf. A guitar pick impaled itself in the side of a book. An autographed CD was almost crushed in the path of a passing stroller – but I kicked it out of the way (the stroller, not the CD). A passerby nearly stepped on my shatter-proof bottle of sweat, but I tripped him before he could step on it – just in case. And OH the HORRORS! Locks of hair fluttered around me, lost forever in the black carpet. But don’t worry – I have more under my pillow. No wonder my arm was killing me; I forgot about all my Rick Springfield memorabilia I was carrying around in homage to the upcoming day!

I lovingly gathered my treasures, reserved a copy of the book, and skipped out of the store grinning at my good fortune (I had the book reserved AND I didn’t have a heart attack!). I floated back to work, humming “Jessie’s Girl,” and tried to concentrate on the rest of my stressful day.

And the countdown begins..........

(Rick Springfield’s memoir, ‘Late, Late at Night,’ hits bookstores October 12, 2010)