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Channeling My Inner Escape Artist


As a freelance reporter, I met Dean Gunnarson in the 80s when I covered an event for a Winnipeg community newspaper: the international president of an influential magicians’ organization known throughout North America was to make an appearance at a local magicians’ society chapter meeting. I thought it would make the article more interesting if I not only focused on the president’s visit, but also wrote a sidebar featuring the more prominent members of this particular chapter. When I asked for some names, Dean Gunnarson was the first one mentioned.

It was love a first sight – well love after the first 20 minutes of our impromptu interview in which it was revealed that Gunnarson was (at the time) an up and coming escape artist. I’d heard of Houdini of course, but there was just something so captivating about this young man: while several of the attempts he described were recreations of Houdini escapes, a couple of them were of Gunnarson’s own devise and completely new.

Over the years, I’ve followed his career and watched some of the TV specials he’s been in. (FYI: after Googling escape artists, out of the top 10 escapologists listed on the Brainz website, the only two I am familiar with are Houdini and Gunnarson). When I’d heard that he’d moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver, I tried to get in touch, but never managed to. I don’t know how it came up in conversation, but when I mentioned that I had met Dean Gunnarson a couple of times, a friend remarked that I was a bit of an escape artist myself.

It’s true.

The New Year got off to a promising start – I began an exercise program; I made a weekly schedule that balanced personal writing with my freelance projects; and since I was determined find work that is meaningful to me before the end of February, I had amped up my job search. But then I applied for a job I really wanted, only to discover that the cover letter I sent had mistakes in it.

Consequently, my raison d’etre for the past four weeks has been escape. I have spent plenty of time with the Mad Men season 5 DVD I received for Christmas (every single commentary must be played through to the end – it’s a rule); cleaning, dusting, vacuuming (infinitely safer than sending out cover letters that the typo elves have messed with after being proof-read); and copious hours reading in bed (there’s even a word for it – a person who reads in bed is a librocubicularist).

Moral of this story: you don’t have to dangle from a building in a straightjacket in order to be an escape artist!

Yesterday I took the time to make up a schedule for this upcoming week. I have already put in two hours of freelance writing for a client, taken a walk and have done some job searching. It seems that I am back on track.


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