blessed are the easily amused

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

page 79

Well, I never did finish the novel - I stopped for gas and coffee at the halfway mark and never got back behind the wheel. But if a slackass like me can write half a novel in three weeks, imagine what someone with any kind of work ethic could do. 25,000 words is no joke. And my protagonist and I are still on good terms, more or less. It was an amicable ending. What follows is one of her dreams.


She feels the serenity on her face for real, now. Under the trademark wrap (which once was a light blue bed sheet) she’s demure and calm, the stage lighting beaming down on her from the ceiling and infusing her with a seraphic glow. Out in the audience, the faces that peer back in awe of her holiness are small, dim and adoring. To have arrived here, to finally be her and not a choir member or a sheep or a narrator feels like fate has finally gotten it right. As though awakening from a long dream of nonsense, she’s present in the moment, gracefully accepting destiny. Joseph stands somewhere behind her, one protective and jealous hand on her shoulder. But really, the bundle in the manger is hers and everybody knows it. Ave Maria, the big winner; God’s favoured vessel and subject of about a million advent carols. Well, now the advent calendar has been traversed, its chocolaty treasures greedily devoured, and the big day is upon us. God, being the all-wonderful source of mini-lights, Julie Andrews Christmas albums, stuffing and the little brass ornament with the cherubs that fly around the candles dinging the bells, has mercifully wiped out any memory of childbirth, not to mention conception. So she’s pretty comfortable right now. But there is something not right. The nacht is a little too stille, it seems. Julia begins to fidget, now that she’s aware of all the eyes trained on her. The bobby pins are poking her head under the blue sheet; the sheet is all askew and feels like it’s binding her to her chair. Where are her mom and dad? She searches the darkness of the room for their faces, but only strangers appear. And why isn’t anybody saying anything? She’ d lost track of where they were in the dialogue and now had the terrible feeling that it was her turn to speak. Absurd! Mary doesn’t speak; she just sits there smug and saintly, gazing adoringly at the Son of God. She looks down at Him now, ready to pin her most beatific and glossy stare on His plastic and garishly painted face, but the doll is gone. In its place is a real, squirming baby. He’s got fat little fists and chins, and just a shadow of brownish hair beginning on his head. His yellow sleeper-encased feet kick out spastically, and his face bears the stern look of someone taking a rather important dump.

Holy Shit, she thinks. And laughs.

Her laughter hangs in the air, a tangible violation of the sanctity of itchy tights and dish towel head cloths. All heads turn to see the source of the violation, and to judge it. Now she can go one of two ways, she knows. She can retreat back into character and sublimate her knowledge that this is absurd, or she can smash through the façade. The seconds that tick by in silent damnation are unbearable – she decides to shake off the illusion and ignite the consciousness which had been a tiny ember, present all along. This was going to be Wonderful. Liberating. The Mighty Yes, the Everlasting Screw You, the Princess of Id.

She decides, while she’s got the stage, to give them all a little show. She clears her throat and says in an exaggerated stage voice, “Good people of Gymnasia, please open your hearts and minds to my message. I am the Mother of God. I have seen and felt things that you cannot imagine, and I have been given a great gift – the Lord God has told me what He wants from us, and I’m here to deliver that sacred message to you tonight.”

Here a few people murmur confusion and disapproval, but most of the gym is hanging on every word. She pauses a moment to draw them even further in:

“The Lord God does not want you to wear tights. They are uncomfortable. He does not want you to go to Sunday school and recite bible verses. He wants you to stay at home in your favourite pyjamas and eat Froot Loops and watch Rocket Robin Hood.”

Miraculously, the crowd is still with her, waiting for more:

“The Lord God wants you to sing. As much as possible. If you can sing it, why just say it? When you meet someone coming down the street, don’t tip your hat or say ‘how do you do’. Sing ‘em a little ditty. Here, like this:

‘Cause when I sing
I feel as light as spring
It’s a funny thing
I just feel a lot better, feel a lot better
Feel a lot better, feel a lot better
I just feel a lot better, feel a lot better when I sing

The blue sheet slips off her head as she performs an impromptu tap dance along with her song; she ends it with one arm around a donkey. She waits for applause to erupt, but none does; just the crying of a baby from under the incandescent track light of David’s star. She runs over to the manger and grabs the Baby Jesus, who is conjuring a mighty storm of noise. She holds Him close and bounces Him, cooing and exclaiming to distract Him from His holy tantrum. She pulls His blanket from the manger and, as an afterthought, stuffs the myrrh, frankincense and gold into a satchel and exits stage right, making a mental note to buy some diapers.

The action has distracted Him from His everlasting sorrow and now, as He bounces down the stairs in Julia’s arms, He makes surprised and delighted ‘ah’ sounds with each bounce. Julia makes for the old blue Chev, parked in the school parking lot and makes a little bed for Him in the passenger seat. “Here we go, little buddy. What’s a nice saviour like you doing in a place like this, anyway? Hey? We gotta go have some fun, don’t we?” Lamenting the lack of a child seat, she eases gently out of the lot. The lone sound of tires crunching on frosty gravel is a song of potential.

Julia holds the lucidity lightly, on the periphery of her thoughts. She wants to stay with this for awhile; driving is good. The automatic motions of driving free her to think about the warm bundle of baby beside her, and the dazzling escape they’ve just made from the pageant of boredom. On the highway, the ’72 Chev floats like a great cloud of blue iron and the pure black of a winter night on the open prairie gives way to cautious light.

With the coming of the light, Julia feels a strange tenderness; not just for the baby, but for everything. The sun rises one more time on a world full of sorrow and bullshit, she thinks. Hearts breaking in every hamlet, in every city. I wish I could be useful somehow, you know? She looks at the baby, who now looks back at her with startling understanding. I know people think of me as stand-offish, but really I care a great deal about them; people, I mean. Too much, maybe. I can’t stand to see people suffer. All I want is for everyone to be happy. The Lord looks at her and gurgles agreement. The sun’s crown is now appearing over the horizon, greeting fields of stubble and barbed wire. It will rise and make diamonds of the snow, it will drive the dark of doubt away, it will rise on the lucky and unlucky. Not every heart is breaking, she thinks. There is such a thing as joy. “May every heart feel it once,” says the mother of God as she cruises down the number eleven and blesses humanity.


Monday, December 11, 2006

This is my Grandpa, Frank Martin Toews. He played the harmonica, rode a motorcycle, rescued a maiden from abuse and slavery (and then married her), and liked to drink a glass of beer of an afternoon. He is fondly remembered.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

like my dad always says -

I'm so far behind I think I'm first. The forwarder I go, the behinder I get. Etcetera.

Yay! I'm one quarter done my novel. Booooo, I'm one half done the month. For those of you who read my excerpt at nanowrimo (author name lisalouise), I'll swap it for another bit that falls later in the story.

For those of you who may have wished to comment but were unable to, I've opened the gates and welcome your remarks. I actually didn't realize the gates were shut. It was unintentional blog-snobbery.

And yes, this writing process is both a giant pain in the ass and a tremendous learning experience. I can't stand what I've written but I can think of little other than improving it.

In other news - I've schmoozed myself into writing an article for HOW, to appear in their 'creativity' issue next June. I find this rather exciting.

Monday, November 13, 2006

word count: 11, 453

I know that sounds like a lot, but consider that I need to have 50,000 words by the end of the month (which only has 30 days) and some might argue that they should even make sense. No picnic, dear reader. No, trudging off the to the word mines every day to be engulfed by the soot and sweat of creation is a sacrifice not for the faint of heart.

Also, my novel sucks. I should have taken some kind of course first, or read a book or something. I have 38,547 words left to make it a moving tale or a gripping saga or a tightly woven epic or a literary tour-de-force or a steaming pile of dromedary dung.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

NaNoOhNo, or "It was a dark and wordy night."

Busiest month of my life. But, as Simon said, we're all frickin' busy. Simon also says 'play longer and faster - only then will you be the master.'

It's in that spirit that I begin writing my first novel - my NaNo m.o., of course, is to start a day late and at least a dollar short. I don't even have an idea. Or a genre. But I have the first 600 of 50,000 words expected of me. Why shouldn't the rest follow?

Good luck, my fellow scribblers. 30 days of uninterrupted bullshitting? That's what I call fun. My brain is full of phrases and images that are the cerebral equivalent of horse-on-a-treadmill stock footage. Kind of interesting, but how on earth to use it? I can't wait to see what you guys come up with.

p.s. The only really important thing about this post is the Simon link. You really have to watch it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Being a thinking person is kind of a burden, you know? Always with the thinking. Runs in my family.

real job

No shit. No, I am not kidding. I have my own office, and everything. It's kind of the colour of the underside of your tongue. Except for where the ceiling tiles are discoloured from water damage. And my own desk, which has its own computer. And you know what that means. It's time for Lady MacBugs to fire up that magnificent time-wasting machine. And as an homage to this treadmill that's taken me on, I shall post a link to awe-inspiring treadmill action.

If you really wanna know what this fancy new job is, well you'll just have to tune in again, won't you? But I'll give you a clue. So far, it has involved two of these things:

a) standing in a refrigerator for 4 days
b) spying on employees of adult novelty stores
c) analyzing the semen of albino bulls
d) riding in a hot air balloon at sunrise
e) delivering singing telegrams to suburban zombies

Sunday, April 02, 2006

you're so interesting i want to talk at you for 89 minutes

So I'm trying out my somewhat rusty social skills chatting with some anonymous dude at ye olde caffeine trough. He seems to know something about me - 'you still in journalism?' - and I have to confess I know fuck all about him. That hurdle past, he asks what sort of stories I do. Mostly arts and fluff, I say - but I do have this one project I'm working on...

This statement is the magic key to getting his attention. His eyebrows shoot up in a way that says, 'hey, maybe you are marginally interesting!'. And that's great luck for me, because it unleashes a torrent of unpunctuated and unrelated revelations, highlights of which include 'I was just in New York meeting with some U.N. delegates', 'an iceberg can crumple a ship like a beer can', 'I think we're going to see a lot more of issues like this, especially on the Junos, what with Pamela Anderson and all', 'I do a lot of corporate stuff, but I'm also an artist and musician', and 'wow, it was great chatting with you - you're very insightful.'

I wish I knew who this guy was and whether or not he was one of the 2.5 people who read this. I guess I'll take a chance and post it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

fear me.


Why would I even bother? I mean, it's been half a year since I had anything to say. This blog is as dead (and probably as irrelevant and cliche) as a doornail. What? You didn't miss me?

Perhaps my absence has been like that of Jodie Foster's in Contact, when she blasts off and disappears into a wormhole and sees galaxies glowing and undulating in the velvet black of space and meets her dead father and then, when she splashes back down into Tokyo, everyone agrees she's only been gone for a second. Like Jodie Foster I have been in another dimension. And I have stories to tell.

In the Roommate star system on planet Forcryinoutloud, life has easily been absurd and interesting enough to write about. There just never seems to be a good time. And it hurts too much to travel back to the other worlds where communication of these episodes is possible. You know how it is.

But now he who was once the Date and who became the Roommate is becoming A Friend. Presumably I will no longer change his child's shitty diapers or arise at 6:30 to help with their morning routine or stand blinking in awe when he says, "Jesus Christ, you dressed him in that? For cryin' out loud."

This change will facilitate a chance to think unfettered once again. I will listen to the music of my choice without fear of offending his punk/grind/anarchist sensibilities. Listening to the right music helps me think. Listening to scabby 14-year-olds vomiting up distortion, live cats and the bile of faux rage does not.

I can't really hold a Friend responsible for fettering my thoughts. It's not his fault, really, that I try to accommodate. I believe in psych circles they call this process dishragification. But this Friend is a guy. As soon as he's taking up enough of my brain space to tip the balance, the process begins. I start thinking maybe the Jackson Five wouldn't be just the thing. Or that Tom Waits is actually not all that good. I start thinking, "hey yeah, maybe reading Margaret Atwood novels is no fucking different from reading harlequin romances! Maybe I should read this tract entitled 'People who don't wear the same Political Slogan as me on their T-shirt need to Suck my Dick right now' instead."

You can see how it's going to take me a little while to get my bearings again.

There's a tonne I will miss about the Roommate. Soon, when the house has been too long without the smell of a good vegetarian casserole, I will wonder why we couldn't keep living together. Why I didn't just resist becoming the dishrag. One day I will have to learn, won't I?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Am I nuts?

Early results are looking pretty positive in the lunacy poll. People I respect most say 'definitely dotty'.

But it's a done deal. The Date is now the Roommate. My house is roughly the size of a winnebago and now it houses a weight room. And more CDs with the word 'death' in the title than you can shake a fist at.

Over granola, we chew over the lingering debates:

Can things that are popular be good?

What it will be like when we start dating other people?

I'll tell you this, though. He makes a mean squash, brown rice and pepper casserole.

And so far, I'm happy.

Monday, September 19, 2005


That means sorry. Sorry I've had nothing to say. I could blame the lack of internet access, but it would be more accurate to say this:

Mass graves have a way of robbing one of glib remarks, the kind I've made a habit of posting here.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't been wandering the fields of the dead day and night since I left or anything. It's just that my usual throw-away tone just doesn't seem like it would do this thing justice.

For those of you who've just tuned in, I've been in Aceh checking out the rebuilding efforts. Suffice it to say that there is much work to be done. Years and years worth. And some good work is being done. Imagine rebuilding a sandcastle grain by grain - if you had enough hands and enough time and the right tools it could be done, but every time you stepped back and looked at your progress it would just break your heart.

See? See how this earnest tone I've adopted here just seems wrong? The new Lisa is all sincere. It'll just take a little while for the smartass to come back, maybe.

Anyway, speaking of painfully earnest, I wanted to say that I am in fact humbled by the resilience I see among people here. They walk by those mass graves every day on their way to work, life and what passes for routine now. They play with their children, they volunteer, they put flowers on the graves.

We drink coffee and fly home.

I'll be home on the 23rd, around 7:00 pm.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Papayity in Mennonesia

The jet lag has worn off, but the culture shock persists -

I'm with Mennonites every day - hymns, devotions, you name it.

The official version of this response can be seen at

Gotta go. To church.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I've created a system to help people at work understand how to approach me. A quick glance at my desktop will give significant clues to my state of mind.

dehydrated or hormonally unstable - keep reasonable distance

biological clock ticking -
keep reasonable distance or risk impregnating me

Thursday, September 01, 2005

why do I look pensive?

Because, holy shit, I just realized I'm leaving for Indonesia in, like, 4 days. Like, tuesday. Like, hello; PizzalikePete's. I have as much shit to do as there are... islands in the Indonesian archipelago. I have to learn how to use a canon XL-1. I have to make my home ready for the house sitter (oh, good christ, the Date - I suppose I'll have to throw away the severed heads of all my victims and hide all my Anne Murray albums and get rid of the videos of me and the basset hounds and stash my Conservative Party membership card). I have to take the Lord into my heart in one powerful, sizzling shot (my spirit will sit bolt upright like Uma Thurman after the adrenaline in PUlp Fiction) because I'll be travelling with Christians and they can sense an imposter like a bad casserole.

Please pray for me and the XL-1 as we traipse around Southeast Asia in headscarves and sarongs.

OK, I admit it. The only reason I used that photo is because I just discovered the 'add photo' feature and that was the only photo I could find on my Dad's computer. As you know, my computer is currently sitting on a milk crate in a crack house where people in threadbare sweat pants take turns masturbating to the collected works of Lisa.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

camping with carlo rossi:
in which our heroine finds a leech on her ankle and gets falling-down drunk with Tracey at Namekus Lake.

in the consuming dark
I lose both
balance and shoe

tentscape plurality
bodies insulated
possessions encapsulated

we bested you
you laughed last

when gods awake
they must have
coffee, bacon

oh, duplicitous day
sun-obscuring grey
no match for she-wolves

now it's done
everything points south
for girls and geese

Monday, August 29, 2005

It's exhausting,

this business of feeling and not feeling. Feeling enough to be alive and to know it; not feeling so much that you bleed all over the fucking office and your unwitting colleagues are slipping and sliding in the mess, banging their shins on desk edges as they try to get out of the way.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Day, I love you

This is the kind of day that wants to be acknowledged. Hell, it was practically fishing for compliments from the get-go. Awright, awright.


Hey, Day! Right arm, buddy. You rocked out there. But seriously, thanks for the details -

the handfuls of silty sludge perfect for sand-lair building at cranberry flats (I said it was the beachfront mansion of the brokenhearted vampire - Kody said it was our fabulous Mexican fantasy home. Then I photographed him gleefully smashing it);

an 8-year-old voice piping up from the backseat: 'dude, this is really the perfect beach music!' (CSNY - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, of course);

the freezing river rushing past my shocked flesh and into the city where pelicans jab it expertly for fish.

It was all beautiful. And I'm not just saying that because it was maybe the last day of unabashed summer frolicking before the long, serious winter sets in and new realities reveal all their fangs and scaley bits.

Chestnut brown canary
ruby throated sparrow
sing a song
don't be long
thrill me to the marrow

Friday, August 26, 2005


You may have had two punk bands sleeping at your house if you find:

a can of chili
mennen speed stick (musk)
a black sock behind the couch
a spiked leather bracelet
toothpaste that is not yours
the smell of tobacco, testosterone and anarchy in the porch

Thanks for folding your blankets and leaving the nice note, fellas. Everyone said, "Oh my God, you're letting a bunch of hooligans stay in your little domicile? Whatever are you thinking?" But it was fine. It wasn't them that stole my shit. It was some other window-smashing little fuck.

But I'm over it. I learned plenty. Don't leave shit in the van. And back things up.

PollyAnna over and out.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

haikus du jour

blue hearse -
yellow-slickered driver
fondles moustache

this morning
catshit on the floor
smells of melancholy

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

weep for me

Once upon a time, I cracked open a fresh new line of credit to buy a laptop. I knew that in the years to come, it would deliver my first GCN*, bear witness to genius home recordings, and tuck into its bosom tokens of a life I love - photos and words.

Today, someone** stole it.

So, watch the web for my real diary. Yikes.

*great Canadian novel
**an asshole

Monday, August 22, 2005

a moving tale

I confess to my friend (we'll call him Mr. Smarty Pants) that my new roommate is, in fact, my ex. (See dating chronicles 1 through 5)

friend: Well, that's a disaster.

me: I suppose so. But he's got a table.

f: So I could have my table back?

m: Yeah, and he bakes really good muffins.

f: I see. You are completely deluded.

m: Well, we're all platonic and stuff now, so it'll be totally fine, and he's met someone else already, and incidentally she's young enough to be my, you know, niece or something, and I have totally moved on... Who's your new roomate going to be?

f: This girl I met three days ago. We're in love. She's dropping out of school and moving here from Burundi to be with me.

m: Aw, that's awesome.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Also, this:

I'll be leaving for Indonesia in 2 weeks.

What, didn't I tell you? It's going to be difficult, and weird, and good.

I'm going to Banda Aceh and a few other areas that were smashed to bits by the tsunami last year. A volunteer organization is sending a bunch of us to find out how the rebuilding effort is going.

I'll be posting my culture-shocked observations to when I can, during the 2 and a half weeks that I'm there.

When I come back, I expect to be thoroughly ass-kicked, having observed real struggle. So, no bug up my ass, but maybe a parasite up my colon. I'll also be broke or at least badly bent.

This has been a shake-up summer, my darlings. I've seen thousand-year-old rock paintings and heard heart-breaking songs by a South African genius. I've dumped a canoe into damned cold water. I've changed a diaper. I've run 10 k without puking my guts out. I've let my heart be alternately eviscerated and coated in honey.

It's been a year since I donned cougar ears. Have I learned anything? I have my doubts.

It was the loveliest shitty time ever.

It rained and rained - and cold? Jesus, there weren't enough fleece pants in the world to keep us warm.

But we laughed and yelled and made like crazy amazons on the Churchill river for 5 days, and there was no way to repress our delight. That's the honest-to-god truth.

I was sent on this all-women canoe trip with my guitar as a campfire song catalyst. It worked - you couldn't shut these ladies up. From goddamn 'one tin soldier' to kumbaya (I shit you not) to all their favourite Simon and Garfunkle tunes, they just wanted to sing and sing. We sang while we paddled, we sang while we made supper in the rain, huddled around a woefully inadequate cooking fire.

Day by day, the bullshit ebbed away until just the essentials were left - humour, hard work and curiosity.

But how in the name of Artemis do I get that here, under my mask of makeup and civility?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

bloody caesar

vegetarian: "I just don't like the idea of a tomato in juice form."

friend: "I know, and when you add clam juice in there, well that's just disgusting."

v: "How do they get the clam juice in clamato? Do they, like, squeeze them?"

f: "You don't squeeze the juice out of the clams."

v: "Huh? You mean they just give it to you?"

That conversation may have been a lot funnier to the people present, who were mostly drunk and completely silly (including yours truly, of course). So go to your kitchen right now, pour half a litre of some nice peppery merlot down your wordhole, and then come back and re-read it. I'll wait right here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

cue rocky theme

I remember the days when I was dragging my ass along the trail in my new running shoes, sweat streaming into my eyes, just enough breath left to curse the day my mom and dad decided one more kid could really help around the store. In those days, my ire would be raised by 93-year-old joggers running me off the trail. Where were they going in such a hurry? Was there a sale on turbo-walkers? Geripoweraid? They thought they were so cool.

That was last month. Now my shoes are dirty, and I've spat into the carragana hedges a few times. So it was with a well-earned sense of pride and superiority that I passed the guy with cerebral palsy yesterday.

So sing it with me, chorus of triumphant athlete cheerers! Feeling strong now! Gonna fly now! Punching sides of beef now.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

overcast and undercooked

So there we were on the lawn at work. Some charitable soul had decided to sell hamburgers to raise money for people who actually have something to complain about. The barbecue huddled under a little shelter, as though trying to hide from both the rainclouds and the ugly industrial scenery. Festive? Like a shunning.

My burger was pink and oozed in protest as I eyed it up. This burger was the sacrificial cow that would pay for my breakup of the previous night. The intra-office love affair had reached last call, and my intimacy hangover needed fuel.

Suddenly, he appeared in front of me, a column of fork lightening, an electric presence that illuminated me and my shitty burger - the beautiful vegetarian ex-boyfriend/co-worker, as wholesome as organic soymilk, his eyes as sad as Ted Neely's in Jesus Christ Superstar. I knew we would have to talk, and talk small. I started:

"Some weather."


"This burger's pretty gross."

"Yeah. They should have veggie burgers."

"How are you?"





"Yeah, I better get to work."

"Right. Seeya."

"Yeah, bye."

It's going to get a lot better, though. Poignant anticlimax is just the first of several phases. The cougar will roam again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

not so fast Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

released into the wild Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

going back to saltspring

island, where I will wander by cedar stands and touch the peeling flesh of the arbutus tree. I will look out over that other vast expanse, the one that confounds prairie-dwellers. I'll smile at the locals (both the tree huggers and the engine-gunning rednecks) who surely still hate us, the ignorant trampling tourists, with a salt-cured zeal. Do the old guys still play Jazz on Sunday nights at Moby's? Has the farmers' market begun yet? Truckloads of smoked salmon, firewood and more fine tie-dyed goods than you can shake a bidi at. Maybe I'll rent a little scooter, and me and Tracey will ride to Fulford Harbour and watch the otters fooling around by the docks. Really, we can do anything we want.

Maybe I'll even kiss a sunset pig (?)