Friday, January 26, 2007


I have an unusually large head. I'm serious. But everytime I state this fact, people say, No you don't. But I really do and I know they're just saying I don't to make me feel better.

But yesterday, I had proof.

I don't typically wear hats, not because I don't like them, but because they don't fit. Remember that whole cowgirl trend (in the 80s and then again a few years ago?). Me too, but I didn't wear a cowboy hat either time. And I can't wear a beret without the edges cutting into my forehead or a newsboy cap or a fedora or a bucket hat. But because it's winter and -23 without the wind chill, I have to wear a winter hat. This year I found a white knitted tuque that has sparkly wool interspersed. It's very cute and sometimes I actually don't mind wearing it. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I decided to take the long way home from work, on the busier streets so I could window-shop, instead of the back, empty side streets home. So I walked with and past hundreds-maybe thousands-of other pedestrians for twenty minutes, in and out of stores. At first, my head still felt a bit cold, despite the thickness of my hat, but I thought nothing of it, since it WAS unusually cold out. I continued on, and when I was getting close to home, I passed a gaggle of guys, probably in high school. I noticed they were looking at me, all of them, which was a bit odd, but I figured, maybe I just look cute in my hat, and I kept walking, secretly flattered. I stopped in to get my dry cleaning, then continued home, into the lobby, said hi to the concierge and into the elevator, which happens to be mirrored, which is where I witnessed the atrocity.

My head had BUSTED out of the hat.

My hat, which had, until that afternoon, been knitted into a peak at the top, had come unravelled. Instead of being closed at the top, LIKE A HAT, it was a tube, sticking straight up off my head. I looked like I was wearing a dickie (remember those faux turtlenecks?) on my head. I was wearing a head dickie. A HICKIE.

And everyone -- the hundreds of pedestrians, the lady at the dry cleaning shop, the group of boys, the concierge, and my neighbours in the elevator--had all seen me and my big head in my hickie.

And people think I'm exaggerating about my big head.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Frittata by any other name...

Lessons from a cooking class...

Last night, in an attempt to get inspired to keep my new year's resolution to cook one item a week, I signed up for a Tapas cooking course. Okay, so we didn't actually have to cook anything--the chef did that, while we drank three different cocktails. Now that's my kind of cooking class.

The first tapas was meatballs on toothpicks. They were tasty, looked fairly simple to make, but had peas in the sauce. Peas? Now, I, unlike many people, actually like peas. But I think they have their place, and I'm not sure it's in the sauce of an appetizer you're hoping to woo dinner guests with.

Next up was grilled shrimp in sauce (it had a fancy name, but I've forgotten it, possibly because at this point we were on to cocktail number 2, which I liked much better than cocktail number 1). The shrimp, and its sauce, was very tasty though.

Tapas #3 was artichokes. I love artichokes but after watching the chef peel the artichoke to remove the skin ("You have to work quickly--QUICKLY--so the artichoke doesn't turn brown!"), cut it, core it, steam it, then create a marinade, I felt a little overwhelmed, and stressed by the flurry of activity, and, I have to say, I prefer the marinated artichokes in my refrigerator. You know, the ones you can buy in a big jar at Pusateri's that require no preparation.

So, I was banking on Tapas #4. The final tapas. The one that would wow me--and my friends at my next dinner party.

The final Tapas--the piece de resistence, according to the chef--was Spanish Tortilla. I was ready. This would be the appetizer that would make me a fabulous hostess. With this tapas, I wouldn't need to worry about other tapas. I would just need this one. Twenty minutes later, after sauteing and roasting and mixing and baking (and a lot of other details lost on me as I munched on bread and enjoyed my Singapore Sling), the chef removed the Tortilla from the oven. He dramatically flipped it upside down from the pan onto the counter, then, cut it into bite-size pieces and passed it around. I looked at my cube of egg, potato and pepper.

"So WHAT you do you think?" The chef asked with gusto. There were resounding MMMs and YUMs from everyone else, but I knew better.

In my mind, this was no piece de resistence. I was looking for something dramatic, unique, and pretty. This messy egg concoction in front of me was none of these things. This was a FRITTATA. I was sure of it. Okay, so maybe I've never actually made frittata myself, but Mara has. You know, the main character of Stuck in Downward Dog. And let me tell you, it did NOT go over well with her friends.

It may be called Spanish Tortilla, and it may be healthy and tasty. But to me, and Mara, it was frittata, a fancy omelette, best served at brunch.

So I finished my Sinagpore Sling, ate the cherry, and went home.

I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes, a chef knows best. And other times, you should trust your fictional characters. Because sometimes, they know the truth.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Finishing School

A few weeks ago, I attempted to justify my propensity to not finish books I'd started reading. I didn't mention the book in question that had led me to become worried about this bad habit, because I love--LOVE--the author. The book was Stuart McLean's Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe and since his first Vinyl Cafe book, I've bought them the day they've come out and had to limit myself to one short story a night so that I could make the book last. The stories are THAT good.

So when I received Secrets as an early Christmas gift, I couldn't wait to read it. But, because I had Christmas dinner to plan, house guests to entertain, a round of edits on my book to finish and way too many freelance articles to write, I put the book, unwrapped in all its glory, under the Christmas tree as incentive to finish all the items on my to-do list.

Finally I finished everything the week after Christmas but then I COULDN'T FINISH THE BOOK. It was awful. Was it me? Was it Stuart? With each story I wanted to just put the book down, and when I did, I couldn't pick it back up. So it has sat, on my bookshelf for more than two weeks, untouched.

Until yesterday. My newfound cold+flu+the freezing temperatures outside+snow caused me to stay inside --guilt free!--all day, and in one sitting, I finished the book. It wasn't Stuart. It was me. One of my friends made a good point. Sometimes, when you've got too much on your mind, it can be too difficult to focus on someone else's life. I think that's what had happened to me. There was too much stress, too much to think about, that I couldn't relax and just read. Another friend, who says she has 15 books in a pile waiting to be read, put it another way. "I need to catch pneumonia just so I can read a book." I hope she doesn't get pneumonia, but she might be on to something. Maybe a few aches and sniffles are just what we all need to get in some quality book time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The cover that never was

I love the cover that the book designer at my publishing house created for Stuck in Downward Dog. I mean, it had blue, pink, Post-its and swirly fonts. What's not to like?

Unfortunately, the cover has to be changed.


But maybe the new cover will be even more fabulous.

And even more girly!
We'll see.

(Besides, I already laminated the other cover -- of course it couldn't go unlaminated! It's my first cover! So I'll always have that, hidden away in my closet).

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.

In the fifth grade, I decided to take matters, of a certain cowlick at the front of my head that was preventing my bangs from laying flat, into my own hands. I cut off the cowlick. Of course, this didn't go unnoticed at the hairdresser when my mother took me in for my cut.

"What happened here?" asked Frank, one of two large Italian brothers who co-owned the salon.

I shrugged. Frank called my mother over. "What happened here?" he asked my mother, who looked at the cowlick-in-process (it was regrowing), then at Frank, then at me.

I shrugged.

"Did you cut this off?" My mother asked me.

I shook my head. Neither believed me but I didn't get punished. Apparently having a two-inch swatch of hair sticking straight out of my forehead for months was punishment enough.

Then, in fourth year university, I decided that what I needed, more than a job, a boyfriend, a slap in the face to set me straight, was a PERM. Oh yes, that's right, a perm. And no, if you're thinking, was it the '80s?, it wasn't. It was 2000. That's right. 2000. The thing was, I'd never had a perm. Growing up I, like every other child of the '80s wanted, needed a perm. But my mother had always nixed it, saying that my hair was far too thick, which would make me look like Diana Ross, without the body or the voice, and that because I spent several hours a day in an overly chlorinated pool, my hair was already too dry for a perm and the perm would only dry it out more, making me look like Diana Ross with her hand on the Van de Graaff generator (a.k.a. “The Ball That Makes Your Hair Stand Up”) at the Science Centre.

Back to the summer of 2000, I had deemed myself an adult with a university education, and decided that I was going to treat myself to a perm. I, like Felicity, was going to have messy, sexy curls. Or so I thought. I booked my appointment, and told the receptionist I wanted a perm. "A perm?" she asked. "A perm," I said confidently, sure she was only questioning it because I'd never asked for one before.

I couldn't wait for my appointment. And when I got there, both the owner and my stylist were looking at me strangely. "I heard something..." my stylist said. I confirmed it was true. She nodded. "You're sure?" I told her I was. Then she sent me upstairs to wait. Because the girl who was giving me the perm was late. Because she had to GO HOME to get her perm supplies. Because they didn't have any in the salon. Because no one had asked for a perm in years.

I loved my perm, and for weeks I had the sexy messy curls I wanted. Then, as warned, the perm grew out and I was left with flat roots. And it got worse, as anyone who's had a perm knows. Eventually I looked like I'd just taken off a tight-knit winter hat that had flattened the hair to my ears, then let it escape wildly into a mess of curls. So I did the only thing I could. I cut off my hair into a bob, which looked horrific. Then, unhappy with the way I looked, I broke up with my boyfriend and my stylist.

So when recently, I became obsessed with Taylor Townsend's hair on The OC, I asked my new stylist to give me bangs. This, after having bangs for 15 years, then growing them out and swearing I would never get bangs again. "Just long, sweepy-to-the-side bangs," I said. Which was MUCH different than straight across, boring bangs.

"You've got a cowlick," he said. "You'll have to really work hard to get your hair to sweep across like that because it won't want to." I looked at my cowlick, furious. I insisted he give me THE BANGS. He nodded, cut my hair, then applied four different hair products, and spent 20 minutes with the blowdryer trying to coax my bangs across my forehead. When he was done, the lock of resisting bangs hung straight down in my eyes. So I did the only thing I could when I got home. I pulled open my "hair" drawer in the bathroom, removed the scissors, placed them safely in my office desk drawer, then pushed the reluctant lock of cowlicked hair back to the side it wanted to be on.

Because sometimes, you've got to learn from your past mistakes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Friday Five

Inspired by the sassy Sarah Dessen and of course, the actual Friday Five, here's mine:

1. I have attempted to give up Diet Coke for the past five years. At various times, though none of them were successful. I tried only weekends, only Saturdays, only if there's nothing else to drink (ie I'm at a restaurant and the DD), and going cold turkey. Nothing worked, except switching to Diet Pepsi. Ha. I sound like a smoker, but considering I don't smoke, I figure this is hardly the worst habit I could have. Oh and yes, I realize I'm just trying to justify it.

2. Speaking of justification, I can justify my way out of exercising in countless ways. Here's five of my best. 1. It's too cold outside to run. 2. The treadmill's too boring. 3. I need to get to work. 4. I'm too tired from being at work. 5. There are no classes at the gym at this exact moment and I can't work out in any other way due to the previous four excuses. Pretty good, huh?

3. I took three cabs today. THREE! It's out of control. I did not walk anywhere, except from one building into a cab, then out of a cab into a building. It's just too cold. However, this laziness and shunning of walking, added to my propensity to justify not working out, is not going to fare well in three weeks when I'm in Miami. Not at all.

4. I am addicted to hot chocolate. There is something about the ridiculous shock of winter that has just emerged OUT OF NOWHERE that has caused me to have hot chocolate several times this week. And it's all because of the fabulously fancy hot chocolate I got for Christmas, and these Handcrafted Vanilla Marshmallows. They're HUGE (much bigger than a regular jumbo marshmallow from the grocery store and they're so tasty and squishy). I have not even attempted to give up hot chocolate and marshmallows. I figure, there's no aspartame, so if anything I should focus on the Diet Coke/Pepsi first. And despite the THREE cabs I took today and not working out, I did not feel at all guilty about my cup of cocoa this evening.

5. Hugh is having a baby with Holly (one of his three girlfriends). He's EIGHTY. He's not even sure if he can get her pregnant, but he says he's going to try. “She certainly has my heart, so maybe she’ll have my sperm too!” So what will this make Bridget and Kendra? The two stepmoms? It's so weird, I can't even understand it. But, if he has to have a baby with someone, Holly IS the smartest and most responsible. I know, I've watched the show. More than once. Shame.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Miami sound machine

So just yesterday I was saying that if only I had an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii or Japan, I could read a book through in one sitting. And then, just this morning I found out that I'll be going to Florida. It's hardly Hawaii, but it will be warmer weather than here and it couldn't come at a better time, given our sudden hit of winter, so I'm not complaining. Besides, if you're going to do Florida, does it get any better than Miami? It's so cheesy, I can't hardly wait to sit back with a cocktail and watch some sand studs working on their biceps, Venice Beach-style. Hours of amusement. Oh right, and check out the new product.

I'm not allowed to talk about the product because it's under embargo, but all I can say is that when I told my husband he looked at me like I announced I'd be CAMPING in Florida. Because it's THAT un-girly. Funny thing is, it's targeted at women. Specifically women my age. So we'll see. Hopefully I'll be able to excel at it more than I do at camping.

Not that there's anything wrong with camping. I've tried camping. It's just not for me. I went as a little kid with my parents. Then I tried again for one night at Girl Guides. After setting up the tent, my ghetto blaster and mixed tape selection, passing out the latest issues of YM, Sassy and Mademoiselle, I then grabbed a raw hotdog for dinner (because who has the patience to wait for a wiener to cook when there are mixed tapes and magazines to read?). I was the first one picked up the next morning, and in my rush, I lost one of the posts for the tent. Surprisingly, my dad didn't seem that upset that we'd have a legitimate excuse to never go camping again.

Then, last summer, one of my girlfriends from high school who lives in the country invited me to her annual barbeque. The invite said that if you wanted to sleep over (so you could drink) that beds were being reserved for pregnant women or old people, so we should bring our camper or tent.

Camper or tent? I don't even own a SLEEPING BAG. This means two things: either I am ill-prepared to have kids or I am ill-prepared to live in the country.

I thought about bringing a pillow -- to stuff under my shirt and pass myself off as pregnant -- but decided instead on a bottle of Diet Coke, which I nursed for the evening, then drove half an hour to sleep at my dad's house, in my childhood bed. Now that's my kind of camping.

So, un-girly or not, I'm much more prepared for this product launch than I am to camp. Now all I have to do is select a book to read. And finish.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Finishing Line

One of my new year's resolutions was to finish reading books. In the past year or two, I've created a very bad habit of NOT FINISHING BOOKS. This has made me quite angry because a) maybe the book ends well and I'll never know, b) how can I have an intelligent conversation about the book if I DON'T KNOW HOW IT ENDS?, c) I can never actually finish the book once I've put it down for a few weeks because at that point I can't remember what's happening and so I don't care, and if I try to start from the beginning, I DO remember some parts, making it even more boring, so essentially the book is a big waste of money, and d) most recently I've been thinking about what if, when Stuck in Downward Dog comes out, other people don't finish reading it? Maybe I wouldn't get any bad reviews then if the reviewers couldn't get through it? Or maybe THAT would be their review - that they couldn't get through it. That would be awful.

I got on the topic of finishing (or not finishing) books the other day with some co-workers and no one thought it was bad to put down a book if it's bad. "If you can put down the book and not want to pick it up again, doesn't that say something about the book?" one girl said. The other agreed: "I always try to finish a bad book thinking it will get better but it never does." Which is a good point. If the beginning was bad, why would the writer start channelling Bronte at the end of the book? And if the ending was so eloquent, wouldn't the writer's editor make her rewrite the beginning? Plus, we all agreed that a bad movie is just a waste of time and you should turn it off, and if two hours can be considered a waste of time, how about 20 to finish a book?

All this to say that breaking my new year's resolution only 15 days into the year seems to be quite justified, no?

Still, I think that part of the reason I don't finish many book is due to the whole putting it down and not picking it up for at least a day. If you only watched 10 minute segments of a movie over three weeks, would you really care if you saw the end? Have you ever read a book from start to finish in one sitting? It's so much better, and so my new, new year's resolution is to try to finish books more quickly. It would help if someone would send me on an all-expenses-paid vacation to Japan, or Hawaii. The long flight would really help me to finish the book in one sitting.

I'm going to see what I can do about that.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

One to watch?

The National Post just featured me as one of their Ones to Watch in 2007.

When the writer called to interview me, I wanted to say "Why do you think I'm one to watch." But I thought that might reinforce any doubts she had that I am, indeed, one to watch, so I just pretended like it was perfectly normal that she wanted to interview me.

She said, "We just need a fun fact."

Right. I'll just open my "Fun Fact" file and pull something out.

Um... I have no idea what I said, but I think that was probably where I said something about how I didn't even do yoga even though I was writing a book about yoga. Is that a fun fact or an embarassing reveal?

Then she said, "Now we just need a quotable quote."

Oh, ri-i-ight. A quotable quote. That file is the one right behind the Fun Fact file. No problem. I'll just use that witty quote from 1982.

This, I think, is where I began babbling. Thankfully, the writer was so sweet and so funny, and I guess somewhere in there something I said was passable as a quotable quote.

Then I realized, if I'm at all lucky, someone, somewhere in the future will actually interview me when my book comes out, so perhaps I should start a Fun Fact file or Quotable Quote file.

Thankfully, the writer made me sound good, and I made it in. With
Vincent Lam and Howie Mandel. Who both probably have a whole roster of fun facts.

At least I have hope that if I do muster up a few fun facts, I can laminate them before filing them.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Have laminator, will travel

I just got The Laminator. Can I tell you how long I have wanted The Laminator? Some people dream about a new pair of shoes, a new handbag, Patrick Dempsey. Me, I have long longed for a laminator.

One of my best girlfriends just came through. She has the coolest job in the world, and just one of the perks is that she gets amazing products. And because she is so generous, she gives them to me. Items such as stamps, stickers, books and pens with fairies. And three days ago, she gave me. The. Laminator.

My obsession with crafting supplies started about 30 years ago, I'm guessing. But like any responsible teenager, I denied it a bit, otherwise I would never have gotten a prom date. And of course in university I was very busy pretending to be studying.

And then I graduated and got a job. And I stopped down my love of crafting. I bought some stickers. Then some pretty pens. Some nice notecards. Stationary. Paper. And then I got the labelmaker.

But now, with The Laminator, things have gone to a new level.

I can't stop laminating. I laminated my horoscope for the year. Then a picture of my cat. Then a postcard, a sticker, a card, and the cover of my book, which I'd printed out. You never know what could happen in the next 129 days, so at least I have a laminated paper printout of the cover. I also laminated some cat fur (by accident).

It's not that The Laminator is that expensive. I'm sure I could afford it without having to eat weiners and beans for a week. But there's something far too indulgent about purchasing a laminator for oneself. Just to laminate things. For no real reason except that it makes me happy. Which is why getting it as a gift was so fantastic. I ran out of paper the first day, and had to buy refills. It's out of control.

Monday, January 1, 2007

120 days to go

The first new entry of a new blog is always the toughest. It's like it should be monumental, defining, something I'll look back on in 20 years, and think, this was who I was 20 years ago. Of course, in 20 years, we probably won't use computers in the same way, and we'll remember Blogger in the same way as we remember the Commodore 64 (which, growing up, I did not have because it was for games - PURELY FOR GAMES! - according to my parents, and that was very, very wrong). Instead, we had the Apple IIc (with the green screen, which was way cooler than the orange screen). I'm sure my parents knew what they were doing. After all, they are the same parents who wisely chose VHS over Beta.

Besides, I graduated from university, and maybe if we'd had the Commodore 64 instead of the Apple IIc, I really would've just played games, never learning how to type an essay. Or type at all. And since I spend most of my day typing, where would I be? I wouldn't be a writer, or an editor, (nor would I be able to send as my emails as I can squeeze into my day between actual work). And maybe my first novel wouldn't be coming out in 120 days. So, when my book does come out, I can owe it, in part, to the Apple IIc and my parents' purchasing prowess.

The point is that I did learn to type, and as a long, roundabout result, my first novel,
Stuck in Downward Dog is coming out in 120 days.


Until this year, it seemed very far away. But now that it's 2007, it's coming out THIS YEAR. Still, 120 days seems very far away. It IS very far away. In fact, there are things that seem long, but which, in comparison, are still substantially shorter than 120 days. Here is my first top 10 list.

10 things that seem long but are much shorter than 120 days:

1. Christmas: 12 days, according to the song. It's not long in a bad way, but it does seem long, especially if you've got that many days of work.

2. Advent: 25 days, according to my chocolate Barbie calendar.

3. Lent: 40 days. Of no chocolate. (But I've never succeeded).

4. 40 days and 40 nights. The amount of time Josh Hartnett had to go without sex (I think. I didn't see the movie, because it seemed like I'd be wasting more than two hours of my life doing so, but I could be wrong).

5. Hanukkah: 8 days (I think). I'm not Jewish, but I figured if I was including Christianity, I might as well include Judaism, too.

6. February: 28 days yet it seems to go on forever, highlighted only by Valentine's Day, though when you're single it can be depressing, and when you're first dating, it can be even more stressful as you try to guess what is or isn't too or not romantic enough, and wish you were, instead, single.

7. 15 days of vacation. This is the amount I get at my job (which is, in fact, quite generous, but still...). If I were to take all 15 days off in a row, I'm sure it would seem like I was gone from work for an eternity. Unfortunatly, I don't think my boss will let me do this.

8. 30 days. The time it takes to make (or break) a habit. It may work but it's the 30 longest days of your life.

9. 120 days of winter. I'm guestimating, but if you figure winter lasts December through March, it's about 120 days. But it seems like forever, especially when your nose hairs freeze.

10. 365 days. Okay so 365 days is shorter than 120 days, but in the case of Brotherhood 2.0, it's not even long enough and we're just one day in. Author John Green and his brother Hank have created a video blog -- 365 days of textless communication -- and it's so good, and so addictive, and sure to be a habit in 30 days.

So anyway, the countdown is on. And since this is my first book, I'm going to document all the little things that happen in the 120 days leading up to the release of my book. So I can remember it all in 20 years, Blogger, Commodore 64, Apple IIc or not.