Friday, December 21, 2007

Google me this

I've never really paid attention to the stats for my blog but today I perused. Here's what I discovered.

Google searches that have led people here:

- Bony M
- Mary's Little Boy Child
- circulatory system
- went without glasses
- stringing popcorn and frozen cranberries
- the joy of an eye exam
- why love why
- wrapping garland on a tree
- Hawksley Workman
- glasses wear them all the time
- fucking accordion
- Ukrainian rhyme beets cabbage onions over the fence
- Winnipeg lola hairdresser job
- dirty dishes
- your mother called

(That Ukrainian one has me scratching my head. I'm sure you were disappointed when you clicked on my link, my friend. I know of no Ukrainian rhymes that involve beets, cabbage, and onions being thrown over the fence.)

I also discovered I've had visitors from Vancouver (BC), Baltimore (MA), New York (NY), somewhere in Ontario, Berea (OH), San Francisco (CA), Cumberland (RI), Winnipeg (MB), Kaneohe (HI), Georgetown (TX), Madrid (Spain), and Istanbul (Turkey). Hi everyone! (Picture me waving vigorously.)

Neat, hey? Oh shush - I think it's neat.

Well, here's a picture of Lucy so that you don't feel like you came here for nothing today. (You do enjoy pictures of my cat, don't you? Yes, I thought so.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

As cool as a high school musical

"Nat, you are a very mysterious person."

That is one of the best things anyone has ever said to me, and it was completely unexpected. Granted, I was being rather coy at the time. It was about three years ago and I was at work chatting with Michael, a co-worker. We were talking about some fabulous concert that was coming to town and I mentioned how I was much too broke to go.

Michael: Broke? It seems like you're always broke. You make as much as I do and you don't even have a family to support!

Nat: Yeah, well, I have a lot of bills and...stuff.

Michael: What, do you have a nasty drug habit or something?

At that point in my life I was quite firmly NOT out as a bi person. In fact, I was so far in the closet that I was practically hanging out with Mr. Tumnus and eating Turkish Delight. (Not that I'm terribly out now, but that's a different post for the future.) No one had any idea that I had a significant other and that she was a female! How could I tell him that my girlfriend wasn't working and so I was actually supporting us both? How could I explain that together we had a lot of bills to pay and sometimes we'd be so broke that I'd have to use my gas card to buy us groceries at the corner gas station? (Expired bologna and Wonder Bread, anyone?) I couldn't go into any of this, so I simply smiled and said, "No, just a lot of bills."

I've always wanted to be one of those mysterious women. You know the ones - they have this aura about them. You want to know everything about them but they give you nothing. They make you feel flustered and nervous when you try to talk to them. They're just cool!

That's when he called me mysterious. I was THRILLED! I am the opposite of mysterious. You will know my life story within seconds of meeting me. "Hi-I'm-Nat-I'm-a-feminist-socialist-treehugger-who-hates-being-patronized-and-who-likes-music-and-art-and-taking-pictures-of-weird-stuff-and-long-walks-on-the-beach-and..." I'll go on and on. SO not cool.

However, as time goes by I've accepted that I will never be that dark, mysterious woman in the corner who everybody wants to know, and I think I'm alright with that. I like me, even with all my nerdiness. This brings us to the latest reasons why.

17 Reasons I'm Not Cool (And I'm Okay With That)

  • I've always like school, not for the social aspect (I never had many friends), but for the learning. How geeky is that?

  • I play the flute. Not the sultry saxophone or the wailin' trumpet or the pounding drums. The flute. Like Alyson Hannigan in that awful movie franchise, only with less body invasiveness.

  • I'm an adult and I'm taking beginner piano lessons.

  • I cry. Oh MAN do I cry. None of this stoic, strong stuff for me. I cry, I weep, I sob, I blubber. I cry when I'm sad, mad, or happy. And I don't look all cute when I do it, either. My whole face turns red and blotchy and swollen, my nose runs, my voice turns raspy. It isn't pretty. I'm just one big ball of deeply-felt emotions.

  • I get excited about things like sunsets and autumn and Northern Lights and hoar frost. (By the way, as I write this there is a particularly beautiful batch of fresh hoar frost outside. Fucking gorgeous.)

  • I take the bus. Or as my co-worker is fond of calling it, the Loser Cruiser.

  • I love reading!

  • I will go to the movie theatre and watch a movie by myself.

  • I am not cynical. I usually believe the best in people and give them second and third and fourth chances when they let me down.

  • I don't really do sarcasm. I tend to not realize when others are being sarcastic towards me and when I try to say something sarcastic, it comes out all wrong and people miss it entirely.

  • I like things! Cool people never seem to like anything. It doesn't matter if it's a movie, a band, a song, a holiday, or whatever - chances are I like it and all the cool kids don't.

  • I really really love my family. I know - how uncool! You're supposed to barely put up with your dysfunctional relations. You're supposed to make a sarcastic, cynical appearance at Christmas dinner and then get the hell out of there as fast as you can. You're NOT supposed to stick around and play crib or Scrabble.

  • I play crib and Scrabble.

  • I go to the library regularly and take out books.

  • I don't have cable television.

  • I can't dance yet I love it so I flail around every chance I get. Cool people either don't dance or dance very well.

  • I have a video tape of when I was in the community band. It is of our summer tour to the mid-western United States. It's filled with concerts and marching competitions. I love this video tape. When I first met my ex, I made her sit down and watch it with me. To her credit, she did not go running for the hills.

All I need to do now is find people who think this list is what makes me cool, not what prevents me from being cool. And if one of them should also think I was kinda cute, well that wouldn't be so bad either.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I saw this a while ago and it made me feel happy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Christmas wish list

  1. A job where:

    • I feel like I'm contributing in a meaningful way
    • I get to interact with people with whom I have things in common
    • My co-workers acknowledge my existence, are curious about me, and will actually initiate conversations with me instead of just answering direct questions
    • I am doing something I enjoy
    • I can somehow help people
    • Even one of the above

  2. More friends. Don't get me wrong - the ones I have now are awesome and I couldn't love them any more. However, I'm always on the lookout for more so that my current friends don't reach their Nat Saturation Point (the NSP) and get annoyed at everything I do and say. Have I mentioned that I REALLY like people and enjoy being around them a lot? The NSP seems to occur quite quickly these days.

  3. A photography class where I can learn how to actually use my awesome little digital camera properly. When I purchased it at the beginning of the year, I had no idea I'd turn out to like photography so freaking much. To be more accurate, I've always enjoyed looking at photos, but I've never been much of a taker of photos. It used to take me an entire year to finish one roll of film. However, since I bought my digital camera? Look out! Um, so yeah. Knowing what I'm doing would be nice.

  4. Peace, love, and understanding.

  5. Someone to clean my apartment. Gawd, I hate cleaning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Everyone's a critic, especially Lucy

I've been listening to Christmas songs for a couple of weeks now. Yes, I'm a bit of a Christmas nut. In the interest of spreading joy and settling nerves everywhere, I shall share some of these favourites with you.

Nat's Nineteen Beloved Christmas Songs

  1. A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson - The band organization I was in from when I was 7 years old until I was 16 years old was made up of 4 levels - D (beginners), C, B, and finally A (the best musicians). Every year, all 4 bands put on a lavish Christmas concert in our local concert hall. We'd have sets and special guest and a huge audience. Near the end of the concert, the A band would play this song and I can remember thinking each and every time that I could hardly wait until I was in the A band so that I could play it, too. You know how sometimes you hope for something so hard for so long that when it finally happens it's a big disappointment? That totally didn't happen here. I was in the A band for 4 years and I relished each performance of this song. I know it so well I could hum to you the different instruments' parts. My favourite bits include the chime notes in Silent Night and those fantastic triplets in O Come All Ye Faithful.

  2. Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson - I also played this in band. It has to be the version with the whip-snapping sound, the jazzy section, and the trumpet-horse at the end. It was always amusing when someone new tried to do the horse sound. Sometimes in rehearsal they ended up sounding more like a wounded moose than an whinnying Clydesdale.

  3. Claire Fontaine by Hawksley Workman - This song is not overly Christmassy by it's on his Christmas album and is fun, nonetheless. What's not to like about a tribute to a paper-maker? Claire Fontaine you seem to bring the best out of me and the things that I write to sing.

  4. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono - You can't get cheesier than a couple of peaceniks and a children's choir but I love it.

  5. Go Tell It On The Mountain performed by Mahalia Jackson - She has such a powerful voice that she kicks my ass all over the place and makes me temporarily forget that I'm an atheist.

  6. Fairytale of New York by the Pogues - Any Christmas song that includes the words scumbag, maggot, drunk, and slut is tops with me. Him: I could have been someone. Her: Well so could anyone. Amen, my sistah.

  7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings performed by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan - I know it's not cool to like BNL but I do. They're goofy and fun and their voices sound so damn good together. Add a kicky beat and the beautiful voice of Sarah and you have harmonic perfection.

  8. Carol of the Bells performed by whomever - I know all the words to this and sing along vociferously. What? You don't believe me? You think this song doesn't have words? Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, "Throw cares away." Christmas is here bringing good cheer to young and old, meek and the bold... I could go on. I won't.

  9. 3 Generations by Hawksley Workman - The words remind me so much of my own family Christmases, which tend to revolved around the kitchen. Put away the turkey to make sandwiches tomorrow and put away the bones to make the soup for the winter - but not the wishbone, just put it on the counter and let it dry out this week in time to make a wish for New Year's Eve. And then there's that last verse that always makes me feel a little sad.

  10. O Holy Night performed by Mahalia Jackson - When I was about five years old, my mom had a record of Christmas songs. When you opened the album, the middle had a pop-up nativity scene and I loved to look at it while I listened to the album. The one song I HATED was O Holy Night because it was performed by a soprano whose goal seem to be to shatter all the windows in my house. As I grew up, I associated the singer with the song and avoided it at all costs. Then I heard this version and the resulting goosebumps proved to me that the Mahalia is amazing and the song is actually quite lovely.

  11. Baby, It's Cold Outside performed by Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews - This is an awesomely jazzy rendition that makes me want to dance around and sing loudly while twirling a feather boa.

  12. What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder - Who doesn't like Stevie?

  13. The Christmas Song performed by Nat King Cole - That voice makes me melt.

  14. All I Want for Christmas performed by Samantha Mumba - Her voice is a tad whiny but that beat makes me move. Also my friend likes to sing along, including the super high note, and she always laughs at my attempt to hit the note. Sue me - I'm an alto at heart.

  15. Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses - Even though I love Christmas, I acknowledge that it can be a bit trying at times. This song sums up all the frustrations of the season.

  16. Mary's Boy Child performed by Bony M - Oh. My. GAWD I love this song. So much fun to sing at the top of my lungs, especially the last section with all the different parts being sung at the same time.

  17. Winter Wonderland performed by Aretha Franklin - What a voice. Also, she makes one change to the lyrics that makes me giggle: Later on we'll conspire as we groove by the fire. Hee. Oh Aretha.

  18. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Ella Fitzgerald - What's Christmas without a little Ella? It's nothing, that's what it is.

  19. Hallelujah Chorus by Handel - When I was in band, we got together with an amazing choir and performed this in front of a gigantic audience. I'm pretty sure the shivers I experience during that performance stayed with me for weeks after. And he shall reign for ever and ever - King of kings, Lord of lords.

I got a little too loud with the singing on that last one and woke up Lucy. Here's the look she gave me:

So what are you listening to? Drop me a comment with the Christmas songs you love to love (or hate to love). If I had more readers and it wasn't illegal, I would hold a contest where the winning poster received a disc of all the above music. Ahem. [wink, wink]

Monday, December 3, 2007

Death by garland

This weekend I went to my mom and stepdad's house to help with the Christmas tree. I absolutely adore Christmas. I love the music, I love decorating, I love the fresh smell of a real tree, I love Christmas lights, I love baking, I love buying things for other people, I love cold Christmas mornings with sparkling snow, and mostly I love the warm, friendly chaos that comes from a house full of people who mean the world to you all rushing around getting supper together and presents wrapped and trying not to kill one another.

Naturally, when my mom asked if I wanted to go help, I jumped at the chance. Because this is the first year my mom and stepdad will spend actually living in the same house, it's going to be a bit weird. I figured by helping decorate, it will help me to feel that much more at home over the holidays. Plus, since my ex and I broke up I haven't decorated my own place. She was also cuckoo for Christmas and it's just not as fun putting up a tree and decorating all by myself.

When I got to their house, my stepdad was hanging decorations around their sunroom and the tree was all assembled. It's the kind that comes with the lights already in there to make life easier. Mom and I started with the garland. THREE HOURS LATER we finished hanging it around the tree. "What happened?" you may ask. Were we interrupted? Was there a tree-falling-down catastrophe? Did we construct a gingerbread village in there somewhere? Oh no. It was all garland, all the time for those three hours.

You see, my mom doesn't like the usual tinselly garland that most people use on their trees. She thinks it looks tacky. (Yes, Mom. Because none of our other Christmas decorations are tacky. Here is an actual ornament we hang on our tree every year:)

One year she made my sister and me string popcorn and cranberries but that didn't work out as well as she had hoped. We used frozen cranberries and when they thawed, the colour bled all over the popcorn, turing the whole thing into a bloody mess. Also, our cat like to eat it. So one year my mom found this looooong string of silver beads that was to be used for garland and ever since that year, we've had to deal with the Law of Garland Attraction (or Death By Garland).

Fig 1. This is what the garland looks like in its resting state. (Clearly I am still traumatized by the whole incident, because this should be labeled Fig. 1, not Fig. 3.)

Did I mention this fucker is LONG? Because it is. And as long as the string is not touching any other part of the garland, life is fine. However, it's not so easy to wrap garland around a tree when the string is stretched across the living room, out the front door, down the road, and along the highway on its way to Vancouver. This means that you have to wind the string around your arm or neck or body or something. And so begins the Law of Garland Attraction - AS SOON as this particular type of garland touches any other part of the string, the silver balls are so attracted to (or enraged by) each other that they must get all twisted up. See Figs. 2 and 3:

For the result of this twisting, see Fig. 4:

For the result of the dreaded garland knot, see Fig. 5:

My stepdad kept poking his head into the living room and saying one of the following:

  • Are you two still untangling?

  • I can't believe how long that's taking!

  • I can run to the store and get a different kind, if you want.

  • You guys are crazy.

We just snarled back and kept on untangling. We'd get a nice length all sorted out and work on another section, only to have the first section end up in a knot. At one point my mom remarked that we must be the only people in the world who used that garland more than once. I think she's probably right. She has vowed to find something nice and simple for next year but I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I'm going to enact my revenge by ending with a final picture of a beloved, not-at-all-tacky decoration that ends up in a place of honour every year.