Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The distant noise of someone zooming around the interwebs with the scroll wheel of a mouse sounds much like my grandmother grinding her teeth.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh snap!

Scene: Nat is in an empty elevator, going to the cafeteria for something involving caffeine. The elevator stops at the third floor. Of course. The elevator always stops at the third floor. That's because people who work on the third floor fall unconscious to the ground if it is even suggested that they use the STAIRS to go to the 2nd floor. Anyway, the elevator doors open...

Shiny, bespectacled, middle-aged man in an ill-fitting golf shirt #1: Uh...[looks around] We'll, ah, we'll wait for the next one.
Shiny, bespectacled, middle-aged man in an ill-fitting golf shirt #2: Yeeeeaah...[nervously glances around] We'll wait.
[Doors close]
Nat: What the fuck?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

To whom it may concern

I used to live in a house with no doors.

Well, to be more specific, I lived in a house with no bedroom doors. There was a bathroom door, a basement door, and deadbolt-encrusted front and back doors, but absolutely nothing separated the inner santum of our bedrooms from the raucous free-for-all of the upstairs hallway.

At first I HATED it. Where was the privacy? What was there to slam when I was mad at my sister or my mom? After a while, though, it wasn't bad - it just was. I forgot that it was an oddity and accepted it as normal. At night, if the three of us were going to bed at the same time, we'd lay in our respective beds and chat with each other about the books we were reading or the crappy days we had.

My sister scared the hell out of me countless times with her habit of talking loudly in her sleep. One time I was being so quiet because everyone else was sleeping, and, as I snuck by my sister's room, she shouted, "JUST GO TO HELL!" and then continued snoring. Almost made me fall backwards down the stairs.

Not only did I grow used to this flaw with the house, but I grew to love it, just as I grew to love all the other quirks and flaws. See that red stain on the ceiling? That's from my birthday when the wine-opener broke and we were forced to push the cork down into the wine bottle. My sister wasn't aware of the geyser effect that occurs when this is attempted with too much gusto. Notice how the second-from-bottom stair creaks loudly? That was the one to avoid when you had to sneak upstairs past curfew. Yes, the basement is gross and creepy, but it comes in handy when you want to freak out your friends. And yeah, the yard is full of tree roots and weeds - that just means we can play badminton in the yard without being told we're wrecking the grass.

Growing up, this was the one house I really felt at home in. I had always had a tenuous relationship with the notion of "place," due to the many moves we went through. By the time I entered university, I had lived in 6 houses, 1 apartment, and 1 condo in 5 different cities or towns. The longest I had ever stayed in one place was 5 years. The shortest was 1 month. But my mom stayed in the doorless house (both with and then without my sister and me) for 13 years. That's 13 Christmases-worth of memories. 13 birthdays, countless dinner parties, a scary break-in, and the lifespan of our family cat.

Now she's selling the house and I can't really think about it for too long because otherwise I start crying. I know it's irrational and silly, and that there will be fantastic times to be had in her new place, but I can't help it.

If you happen to buy the house with no doors, keep it that way, okay? And say hi for me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kitchen bitchin'

To the horror of my younger (more radical) self, I work in an office. Of a financial institution. Do see that crowd in the distance? That's 22-year-old Nat leading a solidarity march to protest my bourgeois, capitalist existence. Just wave and smile.

Where was I? Right. I work in an office. I've sort of ended up here by accident, where an entry-level job turned into something a bit better, which turned into something that pays well but is mind-achingly boring and soul-destroyingly awful. Over the years, I've discovered that I don't quite fit in with the corporate culture here. Many of my colleagues have kids and spouses and cottages and minivans and fridges full of wine coolers and back decks with barbeques. I have a cool old apartment and three cats and I live in a state of arrested development that prevents me from even considering the possibility of being responsible for another human life.

I'm pretty sure that I was going somewhere with that but instead, I'll give you a photograph:

I know, I know. Bad shot. I didn't have my camera with me that day so I took that with my crappy cell phone camera. Anyway, to answer the question I can hear you asking as you squint and tilt your head, that is a tray of dirty dishes and three notes.

In my office, there is a large cafeteria on one floor, as well a small kitchen (fridge, microwave, coffee machine, sink) on each floor. There is a chronic problem of people ordering food from the cafeteria, taking the tray of deep fried, doughy goodness to their desks to eat, and then depositing the dirty dishes in the kitchen. It's quite unreasonable to expect them to go all the way to another floor to take their dishes back.

One day I arrived at work to find the above tray in the kitchen and a note saying Your mother doesn't live here, please take your dirty dishes to the cafeteria instead of expecting someone else to do it for you, Thank you.

This made me a bit mad. Not only did this note contain horrible abuses of the poor, misunderstood comma, but it was rife with outdated gender role stereotypes. So I (foolish Nat) added my own note. It said That's a bit of an outdated stereotype, don't you think? It's 2007.

Did it end there? No. Later that day a third and final note appeared saying Yeah, it's 2007 but how good does it sound to say, your father's 3rd wife is a liberated type who isn't going to pick up after some step kid from a husband she doesn't even love, and she is really just in the marriage because she is terrified of growing old alone! The bottom line is NOBODY is going to clean up after you so just take your own dishes to the cafeteria.

Who ARE these people I work with? I mean, jeez - my dad has only had TWO wives, not three.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Conversation with a cat

Lucy: [jump] Hi! Whatchya doin’?

Nat: Lucy, get off the couch. [shove]

Lucy: Oops! Hahaha! I accidentally fell off the couch! [jump] Sooooo…whatchya doin’?

Nat: I told you - get off the couch! [shove]

Lucy: Heeheeheeheehee! I did it again! Can you believe it? Silly me. [jump] Um, so where were we?

Nat: Geez, cat! You’re not allowed up here, remember? [shove]

Lucy: WOW! What is with me today? Maybe it’s an inner ear thing. Okay, this time, I’m jumping up there, sitting on your lap, and tilting my head just so. Maybe that’ll help. [jump]

Nat: WOULD YOU GET OFF…[looks down at the cutely tilted head] Aaawww, never mind. [petpetpet]

Lucy: [puuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr] I thought that might help.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Left behind

A month ago, I took this photo:

I've passed by this house every day for the last 4 years, while walking to and from work. The dishevelled yard and the GIGANTIC satellite dish never ceased to amuse me. I mean, who even has those anymore? Well, apart from sheep farmers from Kalkaringi, Australia. (Probably somewhere near here.)

Anyway, I decided to photograph the house and post it on my Flickr page. I gave it the title "Communicate with the Aliens."

Apparently, the aliens have responded because this is what I saw on my way home from work today:

Seeing this house being torn apart made me feel really odd and I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it has something to do with the ever-changing landscape of the modern city. (Blink and you've missed it.) Maybe it was the fact that a very solid piece of reality was soon to be no more and I had captured evidence of its existence.

Or maybe I was over-thinking things. Maybe that the crazy old coot who lived there with his five monstrous Rottweilers had finally made contact and the six of them hitched a ride outa here.

One thing is for certain. This lady was especially interested in the process.

Perhaps she was supposed to catch a ride with them and can't quite believe they left without her.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

We'll go dancing in the dark...and reminiscing

Fifteen Years Ago:
I was 17. It was 1992 and it was the summer between grade 11 and grade 12. I was living in a condo with my mom, her mildly annoying boyfriend, and my sister, who was nine at the time. I don’t remember a single thing from that summer, but I’m sure it was delightful, that I swam a lot in the condo pool, and that I had impeccable fashion sense.

Ten Years Ago:
I was 22. It was 1997 and it was the summer between finishing a political science degree and that weird year where I took classes with no apparent purpose. (Little did everyone know that my aim was to take classes that would be useful the following year when I started my education degree. I went on to receive that degree but in the end, it had no apparent purpose either.) I was full of ideas about social issues, politics, and saving the world. Yes, I was silly, but I was passionately silly. I was working at an international youth hostel and I’m sure it was great. Summer was always a fun time to work there, as I got to hang out with the exta summer employees as well as our guests, who were largely fun, young people from all over the world. This is in stark contrast with winter, when all the guests were creepy, watery-eyed, limp-handshaking businesspeople and weirdos sent to us from Social Services.

Five Years Ago:
I was 27. It was 2002. I had been working in a call centre for 10 months already and I’m sure my spirit was broken. Actually, no – that was back when it was still fun and our days were filled with playing crib online and trying to wake co-workers up from their hangover comas. I was living in a house that was awfully cold during the winters and surprisingly temperate in the summers. Even if one part of it turned sauna-like, the basement part remained refreshingly cool. I was happy to be one half of a couple as well as the owner of one (1) cat. I went swimming a lot in the community pool across the street. That pool had its pros and cons – it was free (yay) and jam-packed with little brats all summer (boo).

One Year Ago:
I was 31. It was 2006. I was a sad, sad Nat. I had been dumped 4 months prior, a close family friend had been murdered 2 months prior, and my grandpa died 1 month prior. I was living in my awesome apartment that I’m in now with my three (3!) cats. I was still on the phones but unlike many of my co-workers, I didn’t mind. I enjoy jobs with little responsibility and ample opportunity to talk, check e-mail, and slack off. It helps deal with the crazy people on the phones.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play. Now I need a place to hide away… Oh. Sorry. Um, yesterday was largely unremarkable. I worked. I went home. I had supper. I watched So You Think You Can Dance. I played a bit of piano and then a bit of flute and then a bit more piano. I read a few pages from Feed My Dear Dogs by Emma Richler (which is really quite good, even though I didn’t like it at first). I went to sleep. That is all.