LA or Hell-eh?

My first trip to LA was in 2005. Wait, I should qualify that. My first trip as an adult to LA was in 2005. I’d been to la-la land and area when I was a kid visiting Disneyland, as that is a rite of passage for most middle class children across North America.

As an adult I visited LA for two reasons a) my friends were down there doing pilot season and I wanted to see what that was about and b) someone was doing a similar show to Teen Angst, we’d been in contact and I wanted to check it out.

Those turned out to be two very awful reasons for visiting LA. First off my actor friends were living at the Highland Gardens in this Canadian Camp Hollywood of dreamers. Most of the people there were nice but there were a few girls there, 20 year olds with no acting training, pretty faces and 20 inch waists that made me hate the entertainment business like I have never before. That 2005 trip to LA made me feel repulsive, fat and ugly. That’s what hanging around with anorexics will do to you. The most memorable moment was when one girl cried when we were out for lunch. She’d ordered the fruit plate and when it came and was humongous she went into a panic attack.

Then there was the comedy show. The first words the LA-based-kind-of-like-Teen-Angst-show producer said to me were, ‘You’re Sara? I thought you were a blonde.” Ugh. The show went fine but I didn’t get any preferential treatment or casual pleasantries I would have expected being from out of town. Yet another blow to my ego and confirmation that LA wanted me to be a skinny blonde girl.

I did a pay to play 5 minute comedy set at the Rainbow Room. It’s a tiny upstairs venue filled entirely of comedians and musicians who are just waiting for their turn on stage. Someone came up to me after my set and said ‘That was great, you really took control of the stage. You have great presence.” I’d just finished Studio 58 and was almost insulted by this comment, as in, of course I know how to stand on stage, I just went through three years of people yelling at me everyday if I wasn’t comfortable in front of an audience. But I guess most comics don’t have that training.

I also I think I got roofied while I was in LA. I’d had three drinks over the course of three hours then got to a club with my LA actor friends and all I remember from that night is being on the dance floor, then I woke up in my clothes back in my friend’s plce. Luckily, my LA actor friends too care of me, at least the non-anorexic ones did. In the morning, with a terrible hangover, I did feel rejected that even when roofied I was too fat/ ugly to be taken advantage of. (Although now, I realize this is a pretty shitty joke to make.)

This weekend I’m going to LA again. I know some awesome people there and I’m going with no shows booked or expectations. I want to people watch and enjoy the sun. Hopefully, I’ll come back from this trip with better stories that these ones for an upcoming Story Time Tuesday.

Feedback time!

Have you been to LA? Have any suggestions of places I should visit or things I should do? Leave them in the comments.

What Elda Taught Me

I don’t know if it’s the time of year, or the age I’m at but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently. Thinking about where am I going, what am I doing and where I want to be. Ya know, life angst.

I know many of you reading this who know me, or are familiar with my ‘work,’ may think that I’m a busy artist who’s doing all the right things. I have perseverance, I get things done, and I’m someone you can rely on to make something happen. This is all great, but it’s only one part of the picture.

There are dozens of projects and ideas I have floating around my brain that I wish I could finish or see come to fruition. Remember Teen Angst: The Musical? How about that novel I started writing during my MA. What about that acting career I trained for at Studio 58. These are all passions I have in my creative mind that I want to materialize.

Nearly two years ago I was in Vernon, BC. It was less than six months after I finished my MA and I was lost. I was visiting my mother who lives there and I hadn’t been in one place longer than three weeks in the  six months prior.

One afternoon I went to the bowling alley to play a game and pass the time. I was terrible; ball after ball went into the gutter. Next to me were a team of seniors who were picking up spares and throwing strikes. One lady saw me struggling and approached me. Her name was Elda.

“You have to follow through,” she told me. “See where you want the ball to go, aim for it with your fingers and follow through.”

I picked up a ball and threw it down the lane. After the ball left my hand I kept pointing where I wanted it to go and guess what? All the pins fell down.

“That’s it, honey.” Elda patted my back. “You just need to remember to follow through.”

So, on days like this when I’m feeling the angst bubble up; “Why hasn’t it happened yet? Why am I not where I want to be? Why are my dreams unfulfilled?” I find myself thinking about that time when I had no idea what to do or where to be. I know I’m better off now than I was when I was visiting Vernon. Dreams are getting accomplished. I’ve just got to remember to follow through, focus and watch until all the pins fall down.

Checking Stonehenge Off My Bucket List

A bucket list is an inventory of things to do and places to visit before one kicks the proverbial can out of life. I do not have said list, but if I did, I suppose going to Stonehenge might be on it.

I was in the UK, I had access to a car, I was traveling with a friend from Brighton to Bath and Stonehenge was along the way. Why not stop and see this mystical area where Druids used to gather on solstices, celebrate marriages and sacrifice virgins.*

When we arrived to the road off the A303 where Stonehenge lies, I’d just completed my first two hours of driving manual on the left side of the road ever. I was ready for a break, and ice cream. Yes, Stonehenge has ice cream.**

I pulled into the parking lot at the National Trust site where a cute (for a Brit) young man asked if I had a pass.

“No.” I laughed. Mostly because, I mean, do I sound like I’m from here?

“You could at least pretend.” He joked.

“Oh! Yeah, totally. I have a pass. Yes.” I joked back.

“Okay, go ahead,” he smiled at me and waved us in.

I parked the car and sighed. Not for finally making it to one of the wonders of the world, but for finally being able to take my hands out of their death-grip on the steering wheel. Driving on the left, in a manual drive car and going around a roundabout for the very first time was one of the scariest/ most stressful moments of my life. Perhaps it too is something I can check off my bucket list.

After our ice cream was devoured and £7 entry was paid, we picked up our audio tour and headed towards the busloads of tourists.

You’re not allowed to get very close to Stonehenge, as some bad apples ruined it for everyone. Now, you wander around the stones counter-clockwise stopping at various points where you’re supposed to listen to info-logues.

After taking the mandatory “Facebook profile” shots (one arm in the air looking back on me and Stonehenge – or more realistically, the sky or grass and part of my face) I began looking at the second most interesting thing about Stonehenge: the people it attracts.

There was one man, about thirty years old, who looked to be meditating by himself on the Western side of the site. I tried to watch him and penetrate his thoughts, but I’m no mind reader. He sat cross-legged in jeans and a t-shirt for a long time.  I began to assume he was not meditating but simply taking respite away from his family.

It was people 60 years old and more who seemed to enjoy the site the most, maybe because they knew more about its history or that they had more respect for wonders, or had paid £60 for the daytrip and damn it, they were going to appreciate it. They walked around slowly, intensely listening to the audio tour about the history of the site and the theories about what it all meant and how it came to be.

Of course, there were the stereotypical Americans with big bellies, socks pulled up to their knees and cameras hanging from their necks. More interesting than the loud-talking yanks were the fence voyeurs: people who pulled their car to the side of the highway, reached their camera’s over the chain-linked fence to capture their check on the bucket list. Been to the side of the road, snapped that.

While wandering around these large stones in the middle of the English country side I found myself hoping for a life changing moment. Expecting that this sacred wonder would provide some kind of spiritual awakening – at least a sensation, a glow, or a feeling- but, I felt nothing. I wandered around this historical site, looking more at the other people that came here than the stones themselves, and I’m okay with that.

We exited through the gift shop, as you’re always required to do, passing up commemorative Stonehenge mugs, pens, key chains, calendars, coasters, books, book marks, posters, stuffed animals, snow-globes and cotton jumpers with Stonehenge embroidered across the chest as if it was a major university.

More important than the information I learned, more satisfying than getting free parking from a cute bloke is that after 8 trips plus a year of living in the UK I can finally check Stonehenge off my list.

* I didn’t learn that much from Stonehenge about what is was all about. If you want to educate yourself please visit the official Stonehenge site HERE.

**I’m lactose intolerant so I had a Popsicle but it doesn’t have the same ring to it as stopping for ice cream. 

Postcard Story

This week I’m teaching a workshop on Micro-Writing to 11-13 year olds at the Vancouver Public Library’s Book Camp. What’s micro writing? Yeah, that’s what they asked too.

Micro writing is short, short writing. We’ve done six word stories, fifty-word stories and postcard stories. It’s a challenging form that is basically the art of finding the pith of what you want to say.

Postcard stories are stories inspired by an image and are less than 500 words. Here’s a postcard story I wrote today.

The Easter Bunny or Inside a Series of Bad Events

Dropping out of high school was a terrible idea. I know that now.

Ok, I don’t want this to be an after-school lecture a la Degrassi High or anything. I’m not here to preach.

I dropped out around the time my parent’s got divorced. In retrospect it was the best thing for them to do, their constant fighting ceased but I got lost in the shuffle. Mom moved back to Winnipeg to live with her parents. Dad moved downtown into a swinging bachelor pad.

I refused to move with my Mom.  I was too connected with Vancouver and the ocean to move to the flatness of the prairies.

I was almost 18 so I moved out half way through grade 12. Dad was supposed to give me money to live on but I didn’t want to bother him. And once he got a new girlfriend he stopped remembering me, so I took random jobs.

I worked at every fast food chain. McDonnalds. Burger King, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s but never for more than two weeks. I worked as a night security guard on the West side protecting half built mansions near Arbutus from squatters or theives. Most of those nights I just slept until my supervisor caught me and I was fired on the spot.

In the Spring I took a job at the mall as the Easter Bunny. That costume smelled worse than any hockey locker room, gym bag and jock strap I’ve ever smelt combined. I almost barfed when I put the head on. I don’t think that costume had been cleaned in 20 years. Funny how something can look so cute and happy on the outside while on the inside is a circle of hell.

One Saturday my old Math teacher from grade 11 Mrs Green came by with her husband and new baby. I didn’t see her through my mesh mascot eyeballs. It was her voice I recognized first. It reminded me of the day my parents told me they were getting divorced. They did this over breakfast: poptarts. Mrs Green came over to me and said I looked terrible that day. “Is anything wrong,” she put her hand on mine.  

She approached me, or as she knew me, the Easter Bunny with a friendly “How are you?” She stood by the photographer and cooed to get her child to smile and look the right way.

After the photo was taken the baby was sick all over my arm. Of course I didn’t notice. Mrs Green apologized profusely and stuck a $20 bill in my paw.

One Degree of Separation

One day while I was attending Goldsmiths I looked up and saw a recognizable face. A girl with long ginger hair and saucer sized eyes was walking through the cafeteria of the East London University.

“Is that the Princess?” I asked my classmates.

They looked up, shrugged and said, “Oh yeah, that’s Beatrice.”

My classmates could not care less that a member of the royal family was attending our artsy school which apparently has the reputation of being one of the most liberal institutions in the UK. I, however, was quite excited. I had seen a princess, an honest to God fricken Princess. The daughter of Weight Watcher Sarah Ferguson!

Which is why I was so excited to see the hat, the monument, the fashion statement, that one of my fellow Goldsmithians chose to wear on her head at the recent royal wedding.

To think, I once shared a cafeteria with a woman who attended the wedding of Wills and Kate with the Flying Spaghetti Monster fashioned into a hat!!

Nothing in the past week has given me more joy and excitement than the sight of this chapeau. For a full recap of the craziest and most fashionable hats seen at Westminster Abbey last Friday please check out this recap blog:,,20395222_20485864_20943755,00.html

Also I highly recommend this link:

Morning People

Here’s a Story Time Tuesday for ya. It’s been a while.

I am not a morning person, I’m a late night person. Last week however, I was forced to live in another realm of reality when I had a job where I had to wake up at a normal time, and by normal I mean the time most people in this city are waking up: before 8 a.m.

It’s not the waking up that’s the problem, so long as I hop in the shower within the first 10 minutes, I’m alert and ready to go. The problem I have with morning is other morning people. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen so many sad and frustrated looking souls.

The job I’ve been doing is a promo gig. I hand out coupons and samples on the street. Yes, I have a Masters Degree – it has come to this. It’s my acting background that makes me a perfect candidate for this line of work. I can smile and act friendly on cue. I also genuinely like talking to people.

I watched hundreds of people walk through their mornings with coffee mugs in hand and a vacant expression on their face. Some have cursed when they missed the bus then glare at me like I was the cause of it. Many people have kept their eyes down watching their feet instead of the world around them. These people could never do my job.

As I stood on corners parting the seas of commuters, hands extended pinching 50%-off coupons questioning these morning people and their happiness, I became aware that they were also judging me and my life choices. They probably thought I was a student trying to help pay my way through school. Hopefully they were that kind. Hopefully they didn’t know that I was a thirty year old writer/performer who sometimes gets her picture in the paper or interviewed on CBC radio, because that sounds really sad.

I wore a jacket with the company logo on it, smiled and tried to make eye contact with adults way too busy and important for coupons. I tried to accept my place in life and be in the moment without judgment, without resentment or the thought – ‘I went to the UK to do a MA and I came back to Vancouver to do this kind of job again? Have I amounted to nothing in my life?!’

Over the week I got used to early mornings and I actually came to enjoy them. The job was easy and made me laugh. I also genuinely liked people I was working with.

After you stand on street corners handing out promo material for a while you learn not to take the rejection personally. It becomes a game. You learn the tactics that work, you study the psychology of the crowd; if one person in a group take a flyer the people that saw ti will do the same as they walk by you.

Now that the job is over I’ve found myself missing mornings but not morning people. I don’t miss standing on street corners but I do miss being in the middle of the swarm frantically rushing to work as I stand working on acceptance.

Cat Calls

After my trip to San Francisco I got thinking about times in my life that I’ve been cat-called. It seems that men in different cities have various approaches to the drive-by hit-on. Sometimes they honk their horn, which is ego boosting but confusing as I never really know if it’s for me, some other lady on the street or a possible traffic violation. Sometimes they mumble something nice yet creepy under their breath like the men in San Fran who muttered ‘sexy, sexy, sexy.’ Sometimes they come out with genius lines that I want to put on a t-shirt.

Here’s a Top Five list of the most memorable things men have tried to compliment me with.

5. In Calgary, I’m walking on the sidewalk down 17 Ave and a man yells out of his pick-up truck, “Wanna fuck?”

Ah… no. Even if I did, what am I supposed to do, chase after him on the street?

4. In Montreal at the Forum. Me going up an escalator. Him going down, “MmmmmMmmmm!”

The memorable thing about this was that it did not in anyway come across as creepy. Only Montreal men can get away with moaning as a compliment.

3. In London, nearly every time I walked to the tube by my house some chav would suck his teeth and mumble, “sexy.”

This was a pretty … awkward way to start the day. Yeesh guys, get a toothpick.

2. From a homeless man by Science World in Vancouver. “Compliment of the day; you have nice boobs.”

I love this one because it really makes me think. Does ‘compliment of the day’ mean that this was going to be the best compliment I was going to get that day or does he only dole out one compliment a day and I was the lucky recipient. I also enjoy that he used the word boobs, any other word would have sounded crass.

1. In San Francisco an older black man sitting on a crate on the street pointed at me as I approached. “I saw your picture… in the dictionary… under hoooo baby!”

At first I was frightened – he saw my picture? What? Where? Who is this guy mistaking me for? Then I was confused – dictionary – what? And the ‘hoooo baby’ added the comic relief I needed after the initial scare. I laughed all the way down the block.

In case you are reading this and thinking, see women like it when I compliment them. Ask yourself, is it really a compliment? It’s probably not. 99% of the time catcalls are CREEPY A.F.