Monday, November 17, 2008

He expresses my loss for words

I'd like to be happier that Obama won, but I'm not. However, I am happy that people like this exist.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A narrowly-avoided catastrophe

I live in a fantastic old apartment building and I share a little 5'x8' balcony with my across-the-hall neighbour. This balcony represents Lucy's wildest dreams. Before I inherited her, she was an indoor/outdoor cat and she believes I am the most evil person in the entire world because I won't let her be out there! with all the bugs! and the grass! and the flying things! and the big metal animals that honk and run over cats!

I'm such a meanie.

A few weeks ago, Lucy was looking out the living room window to the balcony and meowing so mournfully that I decided to take her out there and let her explore. I've taken her onto the balcony in the past, but she heads straight for my neighbour's flowers like she has just discovered the casino's new breakfast buffet. I've had to explain to Lucy that I had no interest in her becoming my neighbour's new cat-skin rug and, therefore, we had to go back inside.

But! My neighbour was away for a few weeks and winter's a-comin' - those flowers did not have long for this world. So Lucy and I headed out to the balcony and, as anticipated, the first thing she did was make a beeline for the flowers.


That proved unsatisfying after a while, so she started exploring. OF COURSE this meant that she walked through the bars onto the wrong side of the railing, because apparently Lucy's main goal in life is to give me a heart attack. I lured her back through to the safe side of the bars but she would just hop back out again.

Then she decided this particular form of owner torture was boring and she walked out onto my neighbour's very narrow living room window ledge. She sauntered easily enough to the end but then discovered there was nowhere else to go but back.

I don't know if you know this but cats do not back up.

Lucy ended up reaching up, clawing the screen, and somehow pivoting herself around so that she was facing the balcony again. And like any good cat owner, I grabbed my camera.

Ah feck

After I was done snapping photos and giggling, I reached over and rescued her. I could feel her little heart fluttering in her chest as she dug her claws into my shoulder and purred in relief. I felt a teeny bit bad.

"I'm sorry, Lucy," I told her as I scratched her neck. "That was just payback for hiding 800 containers of lip balm somewhere in my apartment." Lucy licked my cheek to let me know she forgave me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Sometimes I get caught up in the crap of life. And then I listen to this song.

It's not especially new and it's totally mainstream, so I'm definitely losing coolness points. But it fills me with so much orange and red and warmth and power and it makes me tingle from my neck down to the small of my back. Much flailing and singing ensues.

I hope it brings you some much-needed joy, too.

(Best listened to loudly. No, seriously, LOUDER!)

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Due to popular demand

Behold - my "different" hair

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That went well

I recently went for lunch with some friends and we were talking about how a huge age difference in a relationship doesn't always matter. A person might be 45 years old but act 10 years younger, so it's okay if they're dating someone who's 35.

One friend said that sometimes, though, it's just gross. She has an uncle who's in his late 40s who regularly picks up 18- or 19-year olds, and it causes her some discomfort to think about it.

"You think THAT'S creepy," I said. "When I was 12 and I would go stay with my dad, I'd have to go with him to the beer parlour and everyone would ask if I was his girlfriend."

My chuckle was met with a horrified silence.

I thought I was telling an amusing little story. Apparently I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Conversation with a cat, pt 2

Nat: I'm having people over in a couple of days, Lucy. I want you to be on your best behaviour, okay?

Lucy: People? Yay! I love people! I'm going to tell them all about how you torture me so they'll feel sorry for me and pet me and pay attention to me.

Nat: Don't bother. I've already warned them that you lie.

Lucy: I'm going to tell them about the beatings!

Nat: They won't believe it. They know I adore you.

Lucy: I'll tell them you send me to the dungeon when you leave.

Nat: Lucy, they know I live in an apartment.

Lucy: Well then I'll tell them how you lock me up while you're away.

Nat: If, by "lock you up" you mean "let you have free reign of the entire apartment except my bedroom," then sure - tell them.

Lucy: What about the water torture? You can't deny THAT actually happened!

Nat: I'll let them know it was because you decided to climb up the chimney and got yourself covered in soot. I think they'll be on my side.

Lucy: Um...what if I just purr and tilt my head a bit. Do you think they'll pet me then?

Nat: Oh definitely.

On the inside, looking out

Monday, August 18, 2008

New soul

Last weekend the best event all year in this city occurred - our folk festival. There are people who live here who have never attended the festival, even though they're music-lovers who would enjoy many, if not all, of the acts that perform. I don't understand these people. I've been going since high school and I don't remember missing any years. I love everything about the weekend, and I look forward to it all year. The moment the snow on the ground starts melting, I count down the days. Why? Well, I'll tell you...

Reasons why I love going to the RFF:

1. Music: Over THIRTY HOURS of awesome music! Where else am I going to get to see Jill Barber, Pascale Picard, Final Fantasy, Rupa and the April Fishes, Weakerthans, Broken Social Scene, Great Lake Swimmers, Kathleen Edwards, Suzanne Vega, Jully Black, and Michael Franti all in one weekend? Where else can I see Jully Black and Final Fantasy do a workshop where they sing songs about love lost and found or Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Old Man Luedecke singing about the road not taken? Nowhere, that's where!

"Broken Prairie Scene" workshop where I discovered
a bunch of awesome local bands

"Un Monde Fou Entre Nous" workship with I fell in love with
Kathleen Edwards, Rupa from Rupa & the April Fishes,
Ndidi Onukwulu, and Pascale Picard

2. Nature: Music just sounds better when you're sitting on lush, green grass, there's a cloudless blue sky above you, and you can feel the sun sizzling your SPF-40-protected skin. And even though it rained the final day of the festival, it didn't wreck the weekend. In fact, as my friends and I were huddled under Walter, our gigantic tarp (he's big and cumbersome but when you need him, he comes through for you), we were cozy and together and having fun. And when a band I'd never heard of called Bellowhead came on and the music was SO! MUCH! FUN! that everyone was dancing and jumping and twirling in the rain, it felt absolutely right.

The Saturday evening sky

Sunday evening before the main stage show started

3. Peeps, pt 1: I live in a small prairie city. We have a conservative provincial government and a conservative federal government. There are a lot of conservative people that live here. Very nice, very generous conservative people, to be sure, but not really "my people." Once a year the vegans and dreadlocks and pot-heads and treehuggers and bicycle warriors and feminists and non-straights and socialists and old hippies congregate in the park for three days and even though I hardly know anyone there, I don't feel lonely. Where ARE you people the rest of the year?

4. Peeps, pt 2: The friends that accompany me to the festival are some of the best people on the planet. I love them all dearly and relish the fact that we get to hang out together for three whole days.

5. Peeps, pt 3: A family attends the folk festival. There's Mom and Dad and four younger, 20-somethings - two sons, one daughter, and the daughter's sig fig. By coincidence, I have sat near this family for the past four years and seeing them interact makes me very happy. They are so nice to each other. One person will go for food and offer to bring things back for everyone. People buy each other gifts. They joke and chat and have fun with each other. Whenever I see this family, I want to run up to them and greet them like long lost relatives. This year the oldest brother was working on a cross stitch, but I couldn't quite make out what it was. Good stalkerish paparazzi photos are more difficult to take than I thought!

What does it look like to you?

6. Size: It's a small folk festival. I believe the main stage host for Sunday night called it a "perfect little elf festival." Because of its size, the festival has a different feel - it's more intimate, more personal. You see the performers wandering around, checking out each other's daytime shows and chatting to fans. You end up being 20 feet from the stage during the daytime shows. Small means it can take place in Victoria Park, which is right smack downtown. It feels good to hang out in the middle of the city at midnight and not be scared. Once I stake my claim on my patch of grass at the main stage, I feel absolutely comfortable leaving my gear on the tarp and wandering around. In all the years I've attended the festival, I've NEVER had anything taken from me.

The Saturday evening main stage crowd

7. Food: Oh, the food! This year we have our choice of African, East Indian, Thai, and Afghan. Everything from organic to super-bad-for-you. I shall have my fill of smoothies, butter chicken, and mini donuts.

Mini donuts, where have you been all year?

I've written before about how I feel quite lonely and isolated, how I don't feel many connections in my life. In a lot of ways, the rest of the year slowly chips away at my "me" - at my essence. But this weekend is the one where my soul gets built up whole again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How odd

I have different hair. It's not completely crazy, but it's also not a cut I've seen often. I have eyebrow-length bangs, longer-than-chin-length pieces that frame my face, and the rest is pretty short. I call it the Reverse Mullet because it's a party in the front and business in the back.

It's the kind of hair that made my grandma say, "Did the hairdresser MEAN to do that?" And then she booked an appointment for me to get my hair set (whatever that means) and took me out to buy a nice blouse and pair of slacks. Gotta love grandmas!

Oh, did I also mention that I FREAKING LOVE MY HAIR? Cause I do.

The other day I was at a pub with a friend and he commented on our server's hair, calling it "odd." It was a bit unusual - short, pixieish, bleached blond with electric blue chunks - but I liked it and told my friend I thought it was funky.

"Of course you think that. Your hair's odd, too."

I was instantly reminded of a dream I had the night before. For some reason I had to break into a fancy hotel room and steal something. I don't remember what I had to steal and I don't remember the reason behind the caper. I don't even remember who gave the order. I do remember thinking how if I got caught, I would undoubtedly be fired from my job.

So I clumsily broke into the hotel room and before I could exit the hotel, an alarm was sounded and everyone was on the look-out for me. As I crept past a security guard, I saw a description of me on his clipboard. Under hair it said "Layered and strange."

I told my friend about the dream and he laughed.

"See! Even YOU think your hair's odd!"

I think I might set him up with my grandma.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All about meme

Even though I wasn't tagged to do this meme, I stole it from Madam Diva. You should read her list because her answers are fun and thoughtful and interesting.

I am: super excited for the folk festival! Only 4 more sleeps.
I think: in my next life I'd like to be a duck.
I know: things aren't as bad as I always think they are.
I have: a clean fridge! I finally cleaned it for the first time in, oh, let's just say YEARS!
I wish: plane tickets weren't so bloody expensive.
I hate: when you try and pop a zit and it doesn't pop and you end up making it a hundred times bigger and deeper.
I miss: my sister. Why do you have to live away?
I fear: being unliked.
I hear: the wind rustling the leaves on the trees, someone using a band saw, and the ever-present hum of the hospital's heating and cooling system.
I smell: deliciously like Lush's Flying Fox body wash.
I crave: sushi!
I search: eternally for the perfect t-shirt - one that fits well, makes my boobs look good, and has the perfect picture or saying on it that lets everyone know how awesome I am.
I wonder: where I'll be in twenty years.
I regret: not taking biology in high school because I thought the teacher was a tool.
I love: easily.
I ache: to go on a big trip.
I am not: good with money.
I believe: that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. I also believe that this season of So You Think You Can Dance is rigged.
I dance: badly but with abandon.
I sing: all the freaking time!
I cry: WAY too easily about anything and everything.
I fight: my urges to live off nothing but Diet Coke and salt and vinegar Pringles dipped in hummus.
I win: the fight to eat well...most of the time.
I lose: that fight approximately once a month.
I never: burped until that one summer I stayed with my dad and step-mom for a month and everything we ate was either deep fried or chocolate because FRUIT AND VEGETABLES GIVE THEM HEARTBURN!
I always: put on a mix CD of my favourite happy music and sing when I'm doing dishes.
I confuse: everyone when I try to tell a story after drinking 4 pints of beer.
I listen: to my music loudly - too loudly, considering I live in an apartment.
I can usually be found: at lunchtime reading a book and eating my sandwich on a bench in Victoria Park.
I am scared: of taking the bus to visit my family in Winnipeg after that HORRIFYING murder.
I need: to get laid.
I am happy about: the Roughriders' season so far - 6 and 0!
I imagine: that won't last long due to the 8000 injuries on the team. I also imagine there are a few people reading this who are surprised I like CFL football since I say quite regularly that sports are evil. What can I say? I'm a hypocrite!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mom: 2 Nat: 0

The scene: Nat is trying on dresses for a wedding and her mom is helping. Nat tries on a strapless dress.

Mom: This one's my favourite so far.

Nat: Mine too, I think.

Mom: But if you buy it, you might want to think about getting some colour on your skin.

Nat: I have colour!

Mom: Nat, translucent is not a colour.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A matter of perspective

I have a friend who possess an uncanny knack for pointing out truths, even if we don't want to hear them. He recently made a very wise observation that got me thinking. A co-worker had been talking about how busy she is at work. She mentioned how she was already working a ton of overtime but people kept piling more and more demands on her. At the same time, there was someone else in the same position in another area of the company who seemed to not have as much to occupy her time. Our co-worker was going to go to her manager to say she couldn't handle any more tasks, and to suggest a good portion of her work be handed off to the less-busy colleague because "she just sits and plays computer games all day, anyways."

Clearly, our co-worker was overworked and very frustrated and needed some help. However, as my friend pointed out, she didn't need to bring down the colleague when she asked for help. She could say that she had too much to do, yes. She could request help, sure. Hell, she could even suggest that the colleague might be able to take on some of the work. But pointing out that the colleague was just sitting there playing games helps no one out in the situation. In fact, it just might make circumstances much worse for the colleague.

And who knows what's really happening? Perhaps the colleague plays the games on her scheduled breaks and that's when our co-worker walked by. Perhaps she was playing the game in a rare down-time moment between meetings. Or perhaps she was playing them because she didn't have enough to do at work and would welcome an increased workload. My friend pointed out that we had no way of knowing the whole situation, so why even get into it?

Why bring other people down when the problem is with ourselves?

I realized today that I do this all the time when I read blogs or when I talk to friends about their problems. I'll read about a man who suffers from depression and he'll talk about his wife and how wonderful she is and how she helps him through the dark days. And instead of thinking, "How awful for him," I'll think, "What's he complaining for? At least he has someone!" Or I'll read about a woman who has postpartum depression and I'll think, "How can she be depressed? She has a husband with a good job, lots of money, and a baby! What more could a person ask for?" Or I'll talk to a friend who has issues with people and I'll think, "Gawd! I'd LOVE to have all the people she has around her constantly! I'd love living with 2 friends and having very little Me Time. Sounds like heaven! Why is she so upset?"

Because of my friend's comment to our co-worker, I can see now how I'm doing exactly what she did. I'm having some issues with my own life and I bring others down with me. I look at their lives and see how they have all the things I want and I conclude that they're just not appreciative enough, that they just don't know how good they've got it.

Yet I have a lot of things other people would want, and I take these things entirely for granted.

For example, I got home from work today, watched Arrested Development, had a nap, ate cheese, crackers, and a cold leftover hamburger patty for supper, and wrote this blog entry - all without pants on. I didn't HAVE to cook or clean anything for anyone. The only demand made on me was Lucy's incessant "Pay attention to me" bleating, and I shut her up with a handful of kitty treats and a comfy lap to nap on.

What did I do this weekend? Friday night I went drinking beer for so many hours that by the end of the night I had to close one eye to see properly. Saturday I slept until noon and then hung out with my mom. Sunday I went for brunch with friends, hung out at a public pool, and went to another friend's house to watch the football game.

My life isn't horrible. In fact, it probably is the envy of at least ONE person out there. Right now someone feels trapped in a marriage to a person he doesn't like. Someone else is being disowned by her entire family because she just came out to them. An introvert is being forced to attend yet another dinner party. I'm saying none of this to take away from how I feel about my life - my feelings are very real and entirely legitimate - but, rather, to give myself some perspective.

I realize that I'm lucky to have someone like my friend to help me see things differently. Some people may not even have that much.

Clear skies in the distance

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mom: 1 Nat: 0

The scene: Nat is over at her mom and step-dad's for a Sunday barbeque

Nat: You two should get a dog. I like other people's dogs.

Mom: Well, I like other people's kids. You should have a baby.

Nat: Umm...touché.

That's all I've got today so I'll leave you with this song that I'm currently in love with. It woke me up one morning on the radio and I was happy for the rest of the day.

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weighty issue

So Facebook totally thinks I'm fat and I don't know why. Well, besides the obvious "because I am." But how does it *know*?

The reason I know Facebook thinks this is because there are always little ads on the left-hand side of the page saying things like, "33 and overweight? Special study of an ancient asian root allows a safe loss of up to 30 lbs over a three month period!" or "Are you in your 30s and want to lose weight?" with a picture of some hideously obese woman.

I know why they know I'm a woman and I know why they know I'm 33 but HOW DO THEY KNOW I'M FAT?

Speaking of losing weight, ever since Earth Day (April 22), I have set my alarm earlier than necessary and hauled my ass out of bed. I've thrown on sweats or shorts, a t-shirt, and a hat. I've slurped down some yogurt and then laced up my runners and gone either for a 5 kilometre walk around the lake in my city or I've gone to the gym and ellipticalled until I can't elliptical any more.

I'm doing this for a very dumb reason. In fact, it's so dumb that I'm not going to get into it here. Let's just leave it at I want to prove a friend wrong. But, if a side benefit of all this dumbness is that I'm a healthier person, who cares how dumb the reason is, right? Whatever gets me out of bed in the morning!

The walk itself is extremely beautiful. Yes, it's a man-made lake and yes, none of the trees are here because of nature, but it's still really really pretty! Don't believe me? Here are some pictures.

Map of the park

The fountain they added to provide some water circulation
and our legislative building in the background

Always with the geese

There was some sort of rowing thing on the lake

Who cares if they're hand-planted - they're still pretty!

Did anyone actually think fishing in this lake was a good idea?

Wait a minute - that's not lake water, is it?

I wonder, though, how much weight I'll have to lose before morons stop shouting things out their car windows at me. Things like, "Hey fattie!" or " Wide load!" or "Look out! Earthquake!" or other equally encouraging comments. Sometimes I really dislike people.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Only connect *

"It's been a year and I'm not sure it's helping," the alien thinks. She sighs, takes a sip of water, and absentmindedly scratches a mosquito bite on her thigh.

The alien was sent on her mission just over 33 years ago but she's been having some difficulty sorting out all the information she's taken in.

And so, one year ago today, she decided to try a blog.

Many times since her mission started, she's wanted to give up. Can you blame her? She doesn't know why she's here. All she knows is that she was sent here and she's staying until she's learned what she needs to learn.

But the alien is painfully lonely. It's not as if she hasn't made an effort. Just the other day, she was out trying to learn more about the humans. She went to the pub and drank the beer and tried to fit in. When the females talked about giving birth and about what body parts they would fix if they could and about weddings and shopping and shopping for weddings, she sipped and smiled. When the males talked about renovations and the money market and which women wanted to sleep with them, she smiled and sipped. When Male 1 hinted that Male 2 didn't like women - that he liked men - and everybody laughed and Male 2 got angry, the alien really tried to see why that was funny. When everybody started talking about which golf courses were the best, she pictured The alien will never understand golf.

As much as the she would like to give up on this whole mission, she knows she can't. She would miss beer. She would miss music. She would miss the smell of rain and the sound of wind blowing in the trees and the way ducks stick their bums in the air when they bob under the water for food.

The alien feels something brush against her ankle and she looks down. "How could I forget?" she says, scratching the cat behind its ear. She watches Lucy - dear, cute, annoying Lucy - stalk and kill a mosquito and knows she would miss her cat dearly.

She would miss the human family that took her in all those years ago. They are the best, kindest, most loving people she's encountered on the planet. In her years approximating a human, she's made many mistakes. She's modeled herself after some rotten examples. She's been mean, deceitful, ugly. They've forgiven her.

If she quit now, she'd never again see the beauty that is out there. She can't really remember what home looks like but she knows it's not beautiful like this. It can't be.

"Home. There's a funny word," the alien thinks. What is home? Where is home? She doesn't feel like she belongs here among the humans, but she's never really known anywhere else. She's studied humans to try and understand them but she feels so completely alone. The humans notice things she doesn't. They look at a person and notice her eyes are too close together, that her pores are too large, that her lips are too thin. They notice her pants aren't the right colour or shape and neither is her body. Try as she might, the alien doesn't see these things.

The humans have different values, too. The alien knows that money is important and that she needs it to sleep in her apartment and eat strawberries and sushi and chocolate (all excellent inventions), but she doesn't understand why the humans always want more and more and more of it. And some of them aren't happy with more, either - they want it without having to work for it. They want fame to go along with their fortune and...she just doesn't get any of it.

Everyone is so ambitious and dissatisfied and they're missing the best part of being human. They're missing each other. Not everyone and not always, but still, they miss connecting. The alien gets up and paces. She's done it a few times - she's made that connection - and each time it's been magical. There's that second she looks into someone's eyes and she can see the naked light that is who they really are, and she knows everything is going to be just fine.

The alien has discovered over the past year with her blog that you can even make that connection over the internet with people and eyes you can't see, and it's given her a bit of hope. No, the alien will not give up, despite her loneliness.

"There are too many things I would miss," she tells Lucy. Lucy purrs in agreement. "Sure could do without the mosquitos, though. Fuckers."

* From Howards End by E.M. Forster

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Miscellaneous observations

You may think it's a good idea to pick up the 4 kg box of frozen chicken breasts at the grocery store and carry it home because, after all, it's ONLY a 15 minute walk but dude, reconsider your decision.

"So You Think You Can Dance" really and truly is the best television show ever.

Nicolas Cage is an awful actor. He's wooden and stilted and I hate his "schmoopy" face and yet...I kinda love him.

You know how there are some people that you absolutely adore? And then you go out drinking with them and you end up walking home sobbing because you find out that the people you invited to go for ONE DRINK with, and who declined because they were far too busy and "nocando," actually went over to someone else's place to hang out and have fun. And it's not that they're bad or mean or anything, and they don't dislike you, they just don't LIKE you that much - they prefer themselves to you? And you tell yourself, "Screw them - who needs them?" but really you're asking yourself what the hell is wrong with you, and you're just fooling yourself because you really and truly adore ALL of them? But it makes you so sad to know that they look at you like you might examine dirt under your fingernails, so you try to delude yourself into thinking that you don't care about them? But really the whole situation makes you so sad that you start thinking that your family, if they loved you at all, would totally be happy for you if you stopped being alive because daily life is so fucking miserable for you that to want you to stick around is totally selfish of them?* Yeah. That sucks, hey?

Overheard at the Loverboy concert (oh shush - I was selling merchandise): Ah, back in the day me and my wife used to be BIG concert people. We'd go to all the good ones. We were pretty much famous for always being at the best gigs.

* Again, please note that I'm not going to actually do anything stupid. Promise.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's a brand new game!

Lately, I've been playing a new game every night around 3:00 a.m. I call it "Identify That Sound." Let's play, shall we?

That would be my tub of lip balm hitting the floor and rolling s-l-o-w-l-y under the bed, stopping just at the point that no human arms can reach.

That's the sound of my glasses plummeting to the floor and (hopefully) not breaking.

Easy one! That's my book almost falling on top of my glasses.

Also easy - my tissue box hitting the hardwood.

That's my alarm clock on the floor now.

This repetitive noise had me puzzled for a while but I eventually realized it was my lamp being knocked against the wall and then falling back in to place over and over again.

Mew? Purrrrrrrrrr
Ah, and that's Lucy saying, "Can you PLEASE pay attention to me? I'm bored and your night table seems to be bare."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hair raising

My hair is inexplicably changing colour and I don't like it. About a month ago I noticed it seemed lighter than usual and that I had roots. Yes, I've dyed it recently but I dyed it darker, not lighter, so it didn't make sense. But logical or not, it just keeps getting lighter and lighter. Colours that used to look good on me no longer do. The whole look of my face has changed. It's weird.

At this rate, I'm going to be naturally blond by the time I'm 60. Then we'll see who has more fun!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A note to my mom

There are many reasons why I love you, Mom, and I want the world to know how awesome you are:
  • I was in some sort of musical ensemble from age 7 until my mid-twenties. Band, choir, vocal jazz, chamber choir, musicals, the works. I can count on one hand the number of performances you missed, Mom. For hundreds of other shows, you sat in the audience, smiling, proud, filled with excitement and never bored, and you tried your hardest to clap louder than everyone around you. I always loved the moment I spotted you in the crowd.

  • When my girlfriend moved hundreds of miles away, you took me to the bus station to say goodbye. You held back while she and I hugged and cried and then you kept me busy for the rest of the day. You took me to buy a vacuum cleaner. We went grocery shopping. You made me lunch - I still remember what we had: salami, mustard, and melted Boccancelli on crusty rolls, and comforting soup. We went to a movie. You made sure it was a comedy. You gave me rumpled tissues from your purse and many hugs when I cried. I was 31 years old but you made me feel as safe as a child again.

  • I still remember those tough, sad days after we left dad and moved to the apartment in Winnipeg. I was 5 years old, so I didn't think that maybe you were hurting, too. You created special rituals that made me feel better. To this day I get the urge to sit down in front of the TV on a Friday night, watch the Muppet Show, and eat homemade pizza with a banana milk shake off of a TV tray.

  • Growing up I sang. All the time. From morning to night. It must have been annoying but you never told me to stop. (No, that's a lie. I recall practicing a song for choir while we were eating supper and you told me to give it a rest until after the meal. I can't blame you - I imagine my food was flying everywhere.) This past Christmas, I went over to help you decorate your tree and the two of us sang carols the whole time. I launched into an enthusiastic and quite-on-purposely bad rendition of "O Holy Night." You smiled and gave me looks. "Am I bothering you?" I asked, hopefully. "Not at all. It's nice hearing you sing again, even if you are being a smart-ass." Well...if it wasn't bothering you, what was the point of my badness? I kept going, though.
  • When you make my favourite soup (beef barley), you always set aside a huge container of it for me.

  • When I was little and we were not that well-off, you saved your money and took me to Boston Pizza for a Valentine's Day supper. We shared a heart-shaped pizza and you drank water so that I could order chocolate milk.

  • You put a self-centred teenage Nat in my place many times. "My hair's not done - I can't go out with you! Everyone will laugh at me," I would wail. "Yes, because everyone in the mall has absolutely NOTHING better to do than scrutinize you and your hair. I think they might have the spotlight ready for your entrance," you'd snark back. It helped turn me into a decent, kind, thoughtful human.
Thanks for everything you've done, big and small. You're my favourite person on this planet. Hope you have a great birthday tomorrow, Mom. I love you lots.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Last night I had the strangest dream

I hardly ever remember my dreams. I know I have them because I'll wake up and think, "Huh. That was weird." But even as that thought is forming in my head, the content of the dream is slipping away and I'm just left with a vague impression. Sometimes I'll have sad dreams and wake up sobbing, yet I won't be able to remember what it was that made me so upset.

Or, if I do happen to remember my dreams, they are unremarkable. I recall one time my ex dreamed she was fighting ninjas and got sliced in the stomach and was bleeding to death and then woke up. That same night? I dreamed I took a shower and when I was done, I discovered someone took my towel! I couldn't dry off! The horror!

But last night I had the best dream I've had in AGES. It was a Hollywood movie-quality dream.

It started at a party. My friend Cake and I were incredibly drunk and left at about 3:30 a.m. We were really far away from my place but right next to his apartment. Public transportation wasn't running and I had no money for a cab. For some reason, he didn't suggest that I crash on his couch. Instead, he said I should go sleep at his old apartment. (In real life, Cake just moved from one apartment to another.) Cake said that he knew the front lock on the building was broken and he still had his old key, so I could get in with no difficulties. AND his old suite wasn't yet rented out!

Not wanting to sleep in the street, I took him up on his offer. I walked a short distance and found his old building. Sure enough, the front door lock was broken and I could easily enter without causing suspicion. I walked up the stairs to his apartment and saw 2 men at the other end of the hall, talking. They looked familiar but I was still really drunk from the party and just wanted to sleep, so I didn't pay them much attention. I opened his door and sure enough, no one was living there yet. Oddly, the place was fully furnished but I didn't question it because in dreams, things just make sense.

I stumbled to the couch and had just started to drift off when I noticed that the apartment didn't smell right. It smelled like soil, like a garden. So I got up and snooped around to see what the source might be. I opened the door to his old bedroom and discovered that it had turned into a HUGE marijuana grow operation. There were plants of all sizes, in all stages of growth, crammed into that room so tightly that there was hardly room for a person.

"Holy shit!" I thought. "I better get outta here before whoever's running this comes back!"

And, on cue, I heard the voices of the two men I had seen in the hall earlier. The were talking about "checking on the plants" so I knew I had to get out fast. Somehow I snuck out of the apartment without them noticing which unit I had exited and as I walked past them, I was surprised to see that they were none other than Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill.

"Those guys woulda killed me if they had found me in there!" I oh-so-rationally thought.

I safely got out the front door of the building and onto the sidewalk when I noticed that in my haste to leave without being killed by stoners, I had forgotten my shoes. So there I was, miles and miles away from home, penniless, drunk, and barefoot. At that point I checked my cell phone and saw that Wizard, a friend of mine, had called me only ten minutes earlier! What luck! So I called him back.

"Hey, Wizard. I see I just missed your call."

"Um...nope. I called you hours ago."

"But my phone says you called, like, ten minutes ago."

"Couldn't have. I was sleeping when you called."

Then I heard a woman giggling in the background and asking who it was on the phone. Wizard shushed her and then said, "Sorry, Nat. I've gotta go." Then he hung up.

I clearly wasn't going to get any help from him! Despondent, I started shuffling along the street towards home. A vehicle drove up along side of me and honked and I turned to see another friend, Mutton, driving the Love Bus. (In real life, the Love Bus is a Christian initiative in the city where they've transformed an old school bus into a traveling refuge of sorts. The take it to the rougher areas of the city and offer prostitutes and people on the street a place to warm up and a cup of coffee if they want. My friend Mutton is quite active in the Christian community here, though I don't know if he's involved with the Bus directly.)

"You need a ride home, Nat?"

"Aw, Mutton! That'd be awesome!"

"Well hop on."

And then I woke up.

Was that a great dream or what? I mean, guest appearances from Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill!

If there's anyone out there skilled in interpreting dreams, feel free to tell me what it all meant because fucked if I know.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Things I miss

I've been on this planet for 33 years and I have lived with at least one other person for 31 of those years. Living alone isn't all bad. I get to do what I want, when I want. I never have to share the bathroom. If I put a bag of cherries in the fridge, I know that when I go looking for it later that it's going to be there. I always leave the toilet seat down.

Yet there are times when I miss being around people so much that my chest aches. Here are some of the things I miss
  • The smell of bacon when I first wake up in the morning and the sounds of someone making me breakfast

  • Talking

  • Not talking and just being

  • Snuggling in bed

  • Being goofy with someone

  • That feeling of joy when I'd discover that I had an unexpected morning or evening to myself after weeks of no Me Time

  • Road trips at night when it's raining and I'm snuggled under a blanket, eating junk food, listening to great music, and talking to someone I can't get enough of

  • Sharing moments of reality-TV-induced incredulousness or delight

  • Singing harmony (or trying to)

  • Feeling a bit sick and laying down on the couch while someone moves around in the kitchen, listening to CBC Radio 1 and puttering around

  • Lazy Sundays filled with Scrabble, chai, knitting, fires in the fireplace, and homemade meals

Days like today, when the loneliness is palpable, I long to be a kid again and living with my mom, feeling safe, warm, and loved.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So long, farewell, yes those pants do make you look fat

I need help and I'm accepting resumes.

The last few times I've gone out for drinks with friends, I've noticed that I tell a lot of stories that are, in fact, neither funny nor interesting. I also talk WAY too much.

On Friday a bunch of us went to a nearby pub to say goodbye to two co-workers who are leaving the compnay. Here are just some of the things I said that night that probably would have been best left unsaid.

Said to someone who I've only talked to at work, who was drinking Hoegaarden:
• That beer you're drinking tastes like cat pee. Why do you drink cat pee beer?

Said after a friend accidentally brushed again my arm and commented on my skin:
• My skin's soft? I know! It's because I use cheap, no-name lotion.

Said to a co-worker who has a pretty high opinion of himself:
• I know you think you're all hot and stuff, but I don't think you're attractive. Like at. All.

Said to the table in general, at a time when most of my co-workers feel they are vastly underpaid:
• They pay me a ridiculously huge amount of money to do my job!

Said to a friend who is my age:
• My mom think you're hot. Too bad you didn't know her a year ago - I could be calling you dad now.

Said to a very good friend who is in a newish relationship:
• In university, a friend of mine dated your boyfriend. They didn't go out long, though. She said he was creepy.

Said at the end of the night:
• I'm not gonna pass out in the bathroom. I just want to have a little nap here.

I shudder to think of what I said that I no longer remember.

So yeah, send your applications by e-mail to me and I'll get back to those I feel qualify for an interview. Your job will to be to follow me when I go drinking and to make me shut the hell up.

At least I didn't ride the pig in front of the pub like one of my co-workers did.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May-day! May-day!

It's May and that means something fantastic - MY BIRTHDAY! Can you hardly stand the excitement? I know, I know - how old am I? Ten? The big day isn't until Friday but In anticipation of the momentous occasion, I thought I'd offer you a glimpse of birthdays past.

May 9, 1975 - I was born. It was a Friday. According to the poem, Friday's child is loving and giving. That's something I try to be every minute of every day. Sometimes it's tougher than others but overall I think I do alright for myself.

May 9, 1976 - Oh my poor mom. 1976 was a leap year and so my 1st birthday fell on Mother's Day. She spent the day cooking and cleaning and throwing a barbeque for a couple dozen members of my extended family. Since then, my birthday has fallen on Mother's Day an additional 4 times (when I turned 7, 18, 24, and 29). The next time this will occur will be 2010 when I turn 35 (eep!).

May 10, 1980 - I did something bad before family arrived to celebrate my birthday and as a result, was grounded to my room. I remember my 2 older cousins hanging out with me but not for long. Outside my room seemed like much more fun to them than being stuck inside my room with a mopey, sullen Nat. Of course, I completely forget what it was I did that was so bad and my mom thinks I'm making up the whole story.

May 11, 1991 - Star, a friend I've had since high school, has a birthday on May 1. My other friend Lynn had the brilliant idea to throw her a surprise Sweet Sixteen party. As the preparations got more and more elaborate, I got more and more bitter. I felt unloved and left out and was so jealous that all this fuss was being made over her and not me. I had community band practice the day of the big party and by the time I was done I was hot, tired, sunburned, and even more upset. I decided that I should just skip the party due to "not feeling well" but my mom would have none of it. She practically had to drag me out the door and over to the my friend's house. I walked down the stairs to the party room and everyone yelled "Surprise!" "No - wrong person," I laughed. But nope - turned out the party was for me, too. Lynn, the sneaky monkey, had turned it into a joint bash for the both of us and a good time was had by all.

May 9, 1995 - This was my first birthday away from home. I was taking a month-long class on Quebec politics at Laval University. The class had just started a few days earlier and my awesome new classmates helped me celebrate from the moment I woke up (to off-key strains of the happy birthday song) until the moment I collapsed into bed (after eating, drinking, and dancing like a crazy woman).

May 9, 2000 - This was my second birthday away from home. As a convocation gift, my fabulous mother bought me a train pass so that I could travel out to the east coast and back for the month of May. On May 9 I found myself, again, in the lovely province of Quebec - this time in Montreal. My mom told me to listen to Richardson's Round-Up on CBC that day. She had asked him to play "Mario Takes A Walk" by Jesse Cook (a favourite) and to dedicate it to me, who was taking my own kind of walk. Awww. Later that night my friend Lime (who was traveling with me at the time) and some crazy guys from Mexico we met at the hostel went and drank La Fin du Monde until we believed we were fluent in French.

Thanks to my beautiful, strong, brilliant, generous friends and family, I've had many other memorable birthdays. I'm sure this year will be no exception. Thank you to everyone for walking with me through these past 33 years.

But enough about me - tell me about you! More specifically, tell me about a fabulous birthday you've celebrated in your past. Oh, and don't call me before noon on Saturday, okay?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Of snowflakes and friends

Have you ever tried to keep a snowflake? It's so beautiful and delicate and it seems the harder you try to stop it from melting, the faster it melts. At first you can still see the shape in the water but then even that grows hazy.

I have (had?) a friendship like that. It was beautiful yet incredibly delicate and it took me a long time to nurture it into being. My friend didn't open up easily and only lately started giving me glimpses of the soul that lies beneath that sarcastic outer shell. And then I went and did something stupid and the whole thing melted before my eyes. The trust my friend had in me was broken. The respect was gone.

My hope is that my friend feels there's something worth hanging on to. It may take a while to get back what we had but maybe, just maybe it's not completely over. I think it's this stupid little spark of hope, the one that says that my friend isn't ignoring me and this is all just a coincidence, is what makes everything worse. It tells me that maybe my friend is just busy. Maybe feelings haven't changed at all and it's just that taxes are due, or a house needs renovating. The spark of hope flickers and grows in my chest and I check for that familiar string of entertaining, though-provoking, insightful e-mails...only to find nothing. The spark shrinks, but never completely goes out. If it did extinguish, I could go about the grieving process because I'd know that snowflake is gone forever. But it's a stubborn spark that flickers like a distant star that refuses to die and it makes breathing painful.

I wish I could say that I couldn't imagine doing something so awful that a wonderful, precious friendship changes forever but I'm afraid I know exactly what that's like.

I'm sorry. I hope you forgive me before I forgive me. But how do you fix a melted snowflake?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I've been less than threed!

Aw, the Diva likes me! She really likes me!

See that award there? It's my very first one! Isn't she wonderful for giving it to me? You should all go check her out so you can see why I'm so tickled that such a fantastic person likes me.

I think the deal now is that I get to hand these out to 3 people I really enjoy. That's so difficult because I less than three all y'all! Okay, here it goes.

Savia, I want you to have this because your blog always brings a tear to my eye or a smile to my mouth. And you're the one who inspired me to write this crazy thing in the first place!

I would also like Paul to proudly show off this award. You're a sporadic updater but you make me laugh. (And your girlfriend's hot!)

And I'd like to give this to the mysterious Letter A. You take photos of my city. Often, they're scarily close to some of the photos I've taken. I don't know who you are but I less than three your blog.

Thanks to you all!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pity party of one

I think I'm a little distracted today. How do I know?
  • My alarm went off this morning and instead of pressing snooze, I turned it off. I then rolled over and slept for another hour.

  • When I changed into my work shoes at my desk, I noticed that I was wearing one brown and one black sock.

  • I almost missed two meetings.

  • When I got home at the end of the day, I stood there waving my security badge at the front door of my apartment building for at least a minute before I realized that no, that's for the office. The key is for home.

  • I tried to open my mailbox with my bike lock key.

  • When I used the correct key (yay!) to open my apartment, I discovered that I had forgotten to lock it this morning. If you would like to rob me blind, apparently you can go right ahead.
The reason my mind is elsewhere today is because exactly two years ago I took the day off work, went to the Greyhound station, and said goodbye to my girlfriend of almost 6 years as she left for BC. It was a gloomy, rainy day (much like today) and it ranks right up there with the day I found out that my parents were splitting up and the day of my grandpa's funeral as one of my saddest days. It's funny how quickly grief just become a part of who you are. It's a flicker in the corner of your brain, not really fully realized but there nonetheless.

I spent much of that first year devastated. I missed K yet I hated her for what she had done to me. I cried myself to sleep many nights. I agonized over what I could have done differently or how I could have changed so that she would have stayed.

Two years have passed and I'm still sad, only the reason has changed. I now see that K and I weren't the best for each other and it was a very good thing that she left. However, since that time I have remained very much alone. Though I've had crushes on a few awesome people, no one has expressed any interest in me. On the other hand, K has had 2 serious relationships. My sadness used to stem from "Boo hoo I want her back." Now it centres around "What's wrong with me? Why am I so unlovable?" I'm starting to accept that I will likely be alone for the rest of my life.

It's a tough idea to get used to. I'm working very hard on making my aloneness just another fact about me, rather than something to get upset about. "Yes, that's Nat. She has brown hair, blue eyes, and she's alone." Probably you think I'm silly. Again and again people have told me to just get over it already. Well that's what I'm doing - I'm just taking a bit longer than some people.

So if you'll excuse me, I've got a pity party of one to attend. I think I'll put Badly Drawn Boy's "The Shining" on repeat (cello AND French horn? you're killing me!) and curl up under the covers with my sweet cat who has kept me company for the past 730 days. After all, the sun will come out tomorrow, right?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wash, rinse, repeat

Alarm goes off - press snooze for an hour
Drag body reluctantly out of bed
Zombie-walk to the bathroom
Trip over cat
Stand under stream of hot water until able to move muscles
Wash, rinse, repeat
Towel dry
Dress in barely-appropriate business casual attire
Make toast
Eat toast
Brush teeth

Walk to work

Sit in cubicle
Stare at computer screen
Do work
Read blogs
Check e-mail frequently and obsessively
Silently plead for someone to walk by and say hi or offer invite for coffee
Eat lunch
Stare at computer screen
Do work
Read blogs
Check e-mail frequently and obsessively

Walk home

Change out of barely-appropriate business casual attire
Trip over cat
Watch Simpsons and Arrested Development
Check e-mail frequently and obsessively
Make dinner
Watch something trashy or forgettable on TV so there is something to talk about the next day at work in the off chance someone stops to chat
Brush teeth
Wash face
Read a few pages of a mildly interesting book

and repeat



Sunday, March 16, 2008

You gimme fever

I'm going to tell you something that I probably shouldn't say out loud - at least not yet. But I'm going to be brave and risk the possible ramifications. SPRING IS HERE! Hooray! Let's all go dance in the puddles!

If you were to ask me sometime between June and February what my favourite season is, I'd respond strongly and confidently, "Autumn!" But dear-oh-dear, something happens to me between March and May. I toss off my down-filled jacket, kick off my Sorels, and poke my head out my front door like a prairie dog surfacing after a long hibernation. I walk until my feet fall off. I grab my notebook and practically skip to a favourite coffee shop, where I sip my London Fog, write, and watch all my other fellow prairie dogs venturing, blinking in the brightness, into the sloppy streets. I want to smile and say, "Hi! I've missed you!" to everyone I pass on the sidewalk - even the scary teenagers and the wheezing old people. Even the hipsters!

I'm the kind of person who adapts to crap. One time my cold water tap stopped working for my bathroom sink. Instead of calling the owners of the building right away and getting it fixed, I forgot about it and just got used to brushing my teeth with hot water. Anyway, I'm fairly easy-going and I try to look on the bright side of everything. Thankfully, I don't have seasonal affective disorder, so when I'm in the middle of our long, dark, cold winter, I adapt to the circumstances. Oh, it's -30C and none of my friends want to meet for drinks? I guess I'll just eat some popcorn and nuzzle a bit further down in these blankets. But as soon as that first thaw arrives, I feel like I've been released from prison. Whee!

So for the rest of the year, I can treasure the crisp coolness of autumn but right now I'm going to plunge headfirst into spring fever.

I'm going to leave you with this fun little ditty. Yes, I know that it was used recently for a computer commercial and yes, I know that means I'm supposed to hate it. But how can you hate a song with a la-la chorus? And a trombone!

Edited to add: The song is "New Soul" by Yael Naim, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Star light, star bright

For as long as I can remember, I've had 2 wishes. I used them on all stars, wishbones, and birthday cake blow-outs. One wish was to be skinny. I remember using that one for the first time when I was 7 years old. My mom told me to make a wish on the first star I saw in the sky, but not to tell anyone or it wouldn't come true. I wished with all my heart that I would be thin and I didn't tell a soul. As you can tell, the results of that were highly unsatisfactory.

The other wish is for something that probably sounds really bad, but I'm going to assure everyone right now that I'm fine. From the time I was little, I've wished that the universe would make it so that I could no longer be alive. Of course, I've always been overly concerned with the welfare of those I care about, so my wish always had a caveat. I only wanted to cease living if everyone around me would be okay with it. It was more like a wish to have never been born. I wasn't too fond of this whole living thing and wanted to simply disappear off the planet and, more importantly, from everyone's memory.

I was about 10 years old the first time I thought about killing myself. Life as I knew it was full of crying and being teased and bullied and beat up, so not existing sounded...peaceful. I knew exactly how I would do it, too, but I immediately changed my mind once I pictured my mom and grandma having to deal with my death. They would be utterly devastated and I just could not do that to them. Ever since then, I've held on to that desire to disappear. I know it's silly. I don't believe in superstition or gods or anything, yet I still wish my wish.

Tonight I was watching television and an ad came on for a new show about someone who is immortal. The ad flashed through all the problems that come with immortality - you don't grow old but everyone around you does, everyone you care for eventually dies, etc. You know how it goes. It's been done to death in literature and movies and, now, even TV shows. It's the type of show that would normally make me roll my eyes and change the channel but tonight, the ad made me think how humans are always searching for ways to live longer but how long would be enough? 100 years? 200 years? Would we want an extended life if no one else had one?

For some reason, all these thoughts on immortality and life and death resulted in a burst of light in my brain. It sounds utterly cheesy, but all of a sudden I could see that life IS good. That I think I would rather be breathing than not. That our time here really is a blip and that I have to enjoy it as much as I can. That my apartment has been around longer than most people. I've been told these things dozens of times before and even though I could agree, logically, I never felt it. And now I do. And now I have to find another thing to wish for on that first star.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Seven things

The super-fantastic Savia has tagged me for the following meme:

7 random or weird things about yourself

The rules are as follows:
# Link to the person who tagged you
# Post the rules on your blog.
# Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
# Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
# Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged.
  1. I don't drive. I have my learner's license but I haven't really operated a vehicle since I was about 16. Well, there was that one time when K tried to teach me to drive the Jetta I had just purchased but that ended in mild whip-lash and much laughter.

  2. I haven't puked since I was about 9 or 10. I remember the day clearly. My family was going to the Travelodge hotel for Sunday brunch and I had a migraine. Instead of letting me stay at home or postponing the meal, my mom and step-dad decided I could lay on one of the couches just outside the restaurant when they went inside. I slumped over on the leather in my nice dress and white tights and moaned softly while they ate and laughed with their friends. After everything was over and we were leaving the hotel, I puked all over the lobby. Ha! Told 'em I was sick.

  3. Related to #2 - I've never been hung over. I've been drunk, oh yes. Many many times - just this past Saturday, in fact. It was one of those can't-really-see-straight-so-you-try-looking-out-of-one-eye-at-a-time nights. In other words, it was fabulous. But Sunday morning? I was perfectly fine. Okay, well "fine" might be pushing it a bit. I was low energy and a bit dehydrated but there was no queasiness or feeling like the world was too bright or too loud. I'm lucky that way.

  4. I've had a headache since I was 5. Some days it's bad, other days it's hardly noticeable unless I think about it, but it's always, always there.

  5. I looooove the smell of books. When I get a new book, one of the first things I do is open it up near the middle and inhale deeply. My favourites are those old, musty books that have been sitting in someone's basement or garage.

  6. I really enjoy smoking but I don't really want to become addicted, so I follow some rules. I can only smoke by myself, outside, just before bed at night, and I can never have more than one in a night. A package usually takes me a month or two to finish, so I keep it in a plastic bag in my freezer.

  7. I can't skate. The last time someone tried to make me go skating was a couple of years ago. I stepped out onto the ice, slipped, and hit my head so hard that the world turned momentarily black. The experience went downhill from there.
So there you have it, folks. I'm a non-driving, non-puking, non-skating, book-smelling, hangover-avoiding drunk quasi-smoker with a headache. And I'm tagging:

The Diva
anyone over at A Mandolyn and Ky
That Girl

* Edited to add: Apparently I'm not very good at this tagging thing. I tried to find people who hadn't done this meme in the last little while, but I neglected to check the comments for recent tagging. Sorry all of you who have been double- and triple-tagged!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Three little kittens

It's official — I'm no longer the crazy cat lady.

It started with one cat, like I'm sure it always does. Her name was Felix. Felix used to belong to my friend Lynn. Well, kind of. Lynn was dating Al, who was a bit manipulative. Lynn already had 2 cats and didn't want a 3rd. One day Lynn came home to find a little fluffy kitten. Al said that the kitten was found in the big garbage bin in the back alley. Lynn knew she couldn't say no to THAT and said they could keep it. They thought the kitten was male and they called him Felix. Later, 2 things proved to be false.
  • Felix was, in fact, a she. This was demonstrated nicely by Felix's pregnancy and subsequent litter of kittens.

  • Al had not found Felix in a garbage can, but had bought her at a pet store. Al made up the story because who can say no to a garbage can kitty?
Lynn's relationship with Al eventually dissolved (the dishonesty about the cat was just the tip of the iceberg) and Lynn always maintained a level of hostility towards Felix. When Al left, Lynn gave Felix to her roommate, who never took great care of her. So when another roommate, K, moved in, Felix became hers. K was my girlfriend at the time and when we moved in together, the two of us became Felix's new owners.

Felix was quite happy to finally have 2 devoted, cat-loving owners, but she seemed lonely so I got a tiny orange kitten for K for Christmas one year. The 4 of us cohabited relatively harmoniously, with Zen, the tiny orange kitten, growing into a big fat orange cat and Felix assuming the role of mom.

Then K and I acquired a 3rd cat - Lucy. Two people, three cats — we were inching towards crazy cat lady territory. But how could we say no to Lucy? Her owner had committed suicide and she had nowhere to go. Plus, she was the most affectionate, most adorable cat either of us had ever met. She was also really really bad. Of course, this meant that she quickly became our favourite.

After K and I broke up, K moved to another province and left all 3 cats with me. I discovered in a hurry that's a lot of cat for 1 person who wasn't home very often. So my friend Cake adopted Zen and, to my delight, is a wonderful owner. The other morning another friend came and adopted Felix and I really hope the 2 of them are doing well. But now my apartment feels empty with just Lucy and me. I miss the sound of 12 little feet galloping on the hardware floors. I miss the cat fights. I miss the little furry purring bodies walking in and around my ankles. I kind of miss being the crazy cat lady.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A place to keep my stuff

Do you develop irrational attachments to stuff, or is it just me? Big, small, expensive, cheap - it doesn't matter. It's as if the object becomes a sponge that soaks up all the circumstances and meaning that surrounds it and if I get rid of the object, I'll lose that experience. Here are some of the items to which I've been irrationally attached.
  • A pen. There was absolutely nothing special about this pen except that I liked the way it wrote. And then after it quit working, I continued to carry it around with me in my purse. People would ask if I had a pen and I would give it to them, forgetting it didn't work. Everyone was happy when I finally lost it. (The pen, that is. Not my mind. I managed to hang on to that.)

  • A 1991 Volkswagen Jetta I named Jetta the Hut (or Huttie for short). I don't have a driver's license but I did have a girlfriend with a car and I got very used to being driven everywhere. She would even wake up at 5:30 a.m. so she could get me to work in time for my 6:00 a.m. shift. Then someone hit the car and it was unfixable. I was quite sad to go back to the life of walking and taking public transportation everywhere, so I did what was obviously the rational thing and bought her a car. Oh gawd I loved that car. It was boxy and had a crank sunroof and when you put the key in the ignition, it played that little bit of La Cucaracha. It was in such good shape that wherever we would go, strangers would leave notes on our windshield saying that if we ever decided to sell it, we should call them. And then some 15-year-old without a license rear-ended us and the car was written off. When my girlfriend and I went to drop off the car, I was devastated. It was around the same time that we were breaking up and that car symbolized a whole lot of good times together. There were spontaneous car trips and make out sessions and jaunts around the city singing Paul Simon songs at the top of our lungs. As we walked away from the compound, I felt like I was losing all of our good memories and I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

  • A piece of cement I picked up off the wall around the old part of Quebec City. I was there in 1995 for a month-long course on Quebec politics and I scooped it up one night while partaking in some herbal refreshments with friends. That's right - I got high and stole a piece of the wall around Vieux Quebec. I saw it as a big FUCK YOU to separatism. Eventually, it crumbled in my bag. (Is there delicious symbolism in that? Probably.)

  • A malachite pendant that I bought at the Vancouver Folk Festival. I had an fantastic time there watching all the hippie men wearing dresses and dancing in circles and all the non-straight couples making out under every tree. I saw Ani DiFranco and the amazing Utah Philips and a whack of others I can't remember. One day several months after I returned, I was showering. My sister moved my bath towel out of her way and put it on top of the some jewelry I had on the counter, including the necklace. When I reached from the tub and grabbed my towel, everything fell on the floor and my pendant broke. I was FURIOUS at my sister. I remember snarling at her that I felt like going and breaking something she really loved. She went crying to Mom that I threatened to smash her brand new $1300 flute because of something she didn't even do. Now, I never specified what it was that I wanted to break but to be fair, when I said those words I was picturing myself using her flute as a baseball bat. In my defense, I didn't say I would actually do it. Yes, sometimes I'm horrible. But you still love me, right?
I don't know why I do what I do. I'm not a new age type who believes in auras and energy and transference. I'm an intelligent atheist who knows better than that. However, I'm also a person who still hasn't thrown out those broken pieces of malachite.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Overheard through the cubicle wall

Marlene: Do you still have that shrimp dip recipe?

Bernadette: What shrimp dip?

Marlene: The shrimp dip you made.

Bernadette: That I made?

Marlene: Yeah, at your place that time.

Bernadette: Well, what was in it?

Marlene: I dunno. Shrimp?

Bernadette: Oh THAT one! Sure, I’ll bring it for you.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Beauty tips for 2008

I should be getting together my resume and cover letter so that I can quit my bitching about not liking my job and actually do something about it, but a rant is rolling around inside my head that I absolutely MUST obey.

I was at that panacea for modern ennui, Shoppers Drug Mart, standing in line and flirting a little with the woman in front of me. (Actually, were were just discussing my scarf, but I did smile a lot and I'm sure I batted my eyelashes at least once.) (Why yes, I did get my flirt training from a 1950s romantic comedy.) After we had exhausted our conversation topic ("Who knit your beautiful scarf?" "Uh, I don't know. I bought it at a store." "Where?" "Uh, I forget." "Oh. Excuse me but I think I will move away from you and do something terribly important over here. By the way, you have spinach in your teeth."), I turned my attention elsewhere. Nearby stood two 10- to 12-year-old girls flipping through fashion magazines, oohing and ahhing over the clothes and talking about how they needed to go on a diet this year.

It struck me that, without exception, all those colourful, glossy, enticing magazine are designed to make females feel simultaneously empowered and yet physically wrong in every way. "Lose weight in 2008! The secret may surprise you!" screamed the cutsie, rhyming headline. I felt like screaming at the girls, "Put those down and run! Love yourselves as you are!" (Then I remembered that one should not scream at other patrons if one does not wish to be kicked out of the store.) (Not that I speak from experience or anything.)

As I glanced from cover to cover I became increasingly madder. What kind of messed up society do we live in where we're told we can do and be anything we want...but first we have to shed those unwanted pounds, develop abs of steel, make our faces prettier, banish all blemishes, and find the man of our dreams, all so that we can be truly happy? Barf. So, to help combat the spread of stupidity, I present to you

Nat's Beauty Tips for 2008

  1. Hair too straight? Sigh. I know what you mean. But 32 years of wishing and hoping has not produced a single natural curl on my head. My advice? Get a really awesome hair cut that both works with your hair and that you LOVE and never let it go.

  2. Hair too curly? Gimee a break! Why would you not want curly hair? Thank the deity of your choice each and every day for your beautiful, wild, sexy curly hair.

  3. Eyes too small? Open them really wide and spray them with hairspray. This fuses together your eyelashes and your eyebrows. Or maybe just try to look startled all the time.

  4. Eyes too big? Squint a lot.

  5. Tired of doing battle with blemishes all the time? Know what? My mom is 53 and she still gets zits. Know what else? She's gorgeous. Not gorgeous-for-a-fifty-year-old. Just absolutely gorgeous. Zits do not equal ugly. Most people won't see them anyway - they're too busy staring at your boobs.

  6. Embarrassed by in-grown hairs in the bikini area? Take that as a sign that you shouldn't be removing hair from there. Trimming is a must (especially if you like to occasionally be munched), but waxing? Oh HELL no! And if your boy/girlfriend complains that your pubic hair is gross, tell them it's not as gross as their desire for you to look like a pre-pubescent child.

  7. Having trouble keeping up the ol' shaving routine? Try my routine: in the summer, shave once or twice a month; in the winter, shave once or twice all season. If the hair is getting a bit unruly, try braiding it. Everyone looks more attractive with a nice underarm French braid. Thumb your nose at a society that makes us feel disgusted at the appearance of our own body hair. Insead, feel disgust at something important, such as how unfair it is that poor Paris got jail time but that skank LiLo, like, totally didn't.

Those are all the tips I'm willing to share for now. Oh no, you don't have to thank me. But feel free to flash a smile my way and bat your eyelashes a few times (as long as they're not stuck to your eyebrows).

The ideal place for a neatly-trimmed bi chick

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

For auld lang syne, my dears

Before I went out on New Year's Eve, I began a blog post. It went like this:

For the first time ever, I'm feeling rather melancholic about the old year ending and the new year beginning. And I'm not really sure why. The transition from New Year's Eve to New Year's Day has always been about newness and excitement and fresh starts to me, never about regrets or sadness. Yet here I sit, sad and...what, exactly? I'm not sure. Maybe disappointed. Restless.

I listened to CBC Radio 1 today while I prepared appetizers that I'm taking to a New Year's party tonight. All the different shows have been about looking back at 2007 and even though it was a pretty crappy year, I felt myself yearning for the recent past. Remember that day at work when someone actually SPOKE TO ME? I wish I could relive that. Or what about the weekend I went out BOTH nights? Good times, good times.

Realistically, tomorrow is only one day away from today, but tonight represents the passing of an entire year. It's like I can see the inevitable forward march of time and I have a sense of the impermanence of everything. This is not some, "Oh no! I'm going to eventually die!" thing. My death has never bothered me. In fact, I welcome it. Life is so bloody tough and tiring and filled with sadness that it'll be nice when it's all finally over. No, this is not about
me getting older. It's about everyone and everything else fading away. Who knows if my beloved grandma will be around to celebrate Christmas with us next year? Who knows if I'll still be in my fabulous apartment? My job that I dislike? It's a hell of a lot better than nothing and maybe next year at this time that's what I'll have.

Then I ran out of time and had to get ready for my New Year's party. And know what? Something happened at that party. Even though I hardly knew anyone, I had fun. No, seriously - I had LOTS of fun. I underestimated the power of the following:
  1. Really nice people who, for some reason, think I'm cool and interesting
  2. Karaoke
  3. A litre and a half of red wine
I got unbelievably drunk but I never slipped into bad drunk territory. I sang many songs (Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Sweet Caroline, AND MORE!) and I'm sure I was awful at each one. I didn't care. The people were awesome and some were equally as bad. My cab ride home even made me feel good. I gave the driver a nice big New Year's tip and he beamed back at me, telling me that his last two pick-ups had been no-shows but I just made up for his bad luck. By the time I slipped stumbled into bed that night, I was eagerly anticipating the wonderful year 2008 was sure to be.

Looking back on the wild mood swings of my day, I have realized it's ridiculous how extroverted I am. Not in the sense that I'm outgoing (though there's lots of that, too) but more in the sense that I get my energy from interacting with other people. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love people. I love talking with them and learning about them and singing and dancing and drinking with them. I wish I didn't like people quite so much. It would be great to be one of those introverts who can get their personal power from withdrawing from the world. That way, even if I had no friends, I'd still feel worthy and complete.

Jeez. I spend a day with myself and my thoughts, and I'm gloomy and pessimistic and I wish I was dead. I spend the evening with friendly, outgoing, fantastic people and all of a sudden, the new year doesn't look so bleak. In fact, it looks positively fucking rosy. Ah well, I'll take it where I can get it.

So how about you? Did you have a great New Year's Eve or was it terrible? Are you anticipating 2008 with hope or with dread? Did you make any resolutions? I did. I resolve to be nicer to myself. Well, and other people, too. But mostly myself.

Since this is a bit of a yay-boo post, I'll leave you with something that made me sad and something that made me happy.

I think it's sad we have to put needle warnings like this on little travel sewing kits.

I think it's great that hoar frost still happens. It's even greater that it's still called hoar frost.