Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Further Adventures of Natalie Zed

Just setting up my new home:

I write concert and CD reviews for Hellbound:

I blog and review for Metallus Maximus as well:


Natalie Zed updated @ 6:29 p.m.!! 0 comments

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bricks and Roads and Things

This blog is done.

My contributions to it have been dwindling over time. Where once I posted multiple times a week, now I'm lucky if I can manage a single post a month.

It isn't laziness. I have written more in the last few months, both in volume and regularity, than ever before. But this place, this page, this mode of being no longer fits.

As the url suggests, I started this blog as a very young woman, the month after I married my ex-husband. I intended it to be a exploration of my married life, the balancing act of being an academic as well as a member of a permanent partnership.

In the space of a very few years, there was a great deal of change, and death, and bad weather. I lost friends and family and, finally, I lost my partner.

The purpose of this blog shifted; I retitled it (though the url remained the same). What began as a chronicle of my professional and married life became a record of my own personal disaster, and the aftermath. I used this space, partly, to write myself back together. Every post represented a moment that I felt a little bit better, a little bit brighter. Now, I feel like the bandages are off, the reconstructive surgery is complete. And while I am unrecognizable, I am whole again.

Now, this space feels like a monument. It is here, and it is done. There is nothing more I can possibly add to what began as the public journal of a girl, barely an adult, who believed that she would be married for the rest of her life. I can no longer define myself by either that partnership or by its end.

Thanks, everyone. This trip has been long and strange. See you soon, somewhere new.
Natalie Zed updated @ 1:51 p.m.!! 1 comments

Sunday, February 07, 2010

On Criticism

I don't like to run; I don't like to smoke; I don't like pop music.

There is only on moment in my adult life when I ran like I did as a child -- tirelessly, joyfully, without a thought for how much I fucking hated it. I lived in Stratford, Ontario for the summer of 2003, taking a Shakespeare in Performance course. On the second last day of the course, the 2003 Blackout hit. About 15 of my classmates and I assembled in the hallway, trying to study for our exam the next day by the hallway's emergency lights.

My friend Dan burst into the hallway, gasping. He leaned against the wall, impossibly out of breath. We all leapt up, expecting news of the Zombie Apocalypse. Finally he managed to wheeze: "Ice cream parlour." As one, we ran several kilometers into town, never even feeling the burn. We spent the rest of the night eating huge vats of free ice cream in the park, agreeing that this was certainly the best possible scenario for the end of the world.

That particular experience is the one exception to my complete disdain for running. I can see how it is a valuable activity, and how pleasure can be derived from it. Many of my friends are runners, updating their facebook statuses with their training schedules, their best 5k times. Their hearts and lungs stay strong; their knees sometimes ache. It seems like something I could invest in: the pleasure/pain of the activity, the combination of focus and serenity, the calming influence of exercise. And yet, whenever I am called upon to go for a run (or decide to prove to myself that it can't possibly be as bad as I remember), I can do nothing to shut out the mantra "I hate this. I hate this. I hate this" that plays in my heard until I eventually go home is disgust.

My personality is definitely of the addictive/obsessive variety, and goodness knows I have enough bad habits. I drink too much and don't sleep enough, and will consume a ridiculous amount of coffee if I'm not paying attention. I will certainly never lead anyone away from any temptation, and frequently leap into it head first myself. I'm also more anxious and high-strung than any one person really ought to me. An addiction that's bad for you and calms your nerves? It might as well be tailor made for me.

And yet, on the very few occasions I've ever had a cigarette, I've been left completely cold by it. I dislike the scratchy feel in my throat, the film in my mouth, the way my hair and skin suddenly feels tight and ill-fitting. I hate the way my nails taste afterwards, too. I've also noticed that my hangovers become infinitely worse the next day when I've smoked, and I am rather fond of my mercifully mild day-afters.

So it's not something I've ever picked up; not something I've ever longed for or wrestled with. Certainly not something I've craved.

Pop Music
Lily The Pirate: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN you don't like pop music?"
Me: "I don't!"
LTP: "Come ON."
Me: "It just does nothing for me."
LTP: *blustering*
Me: "Listen, I am not saying that I think it is stupid or wrong to like pop music!"
LTP: "...okay."
Me: "I understand, intellectually, how it can be appreciated. I hear that it is catchy and hooky. I understand and appreciate the theatricality. I understand it as a shared phenomenon -- that when you're in a room full of people you don't know and a song comes on that you all love, it's an important social moment."
LTP: "Right!"
Me: "I just don't like it, personally. I hear it all over the damn place, hear other people enjoying it, but it is never something I have had any desire to seek out or indulge in."
LTP: "Huh."
Me: "It's's like how I hate to run! or how I dislike smoking. I understand why poeple enjoy those things, why they do them -- but they're just not for me."
LTP: "...alright. You're still nuts."
Me: "Well, yes."
LTP: "Rah rah ah-ah-ah! Ro mah ro-mah-mah! Gaga Ooh-la-la!"
Me: *sighs*
Natalie Zed updated @ 7:54 p.m.!! 2 comments

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vast Oceans Lachrymose

It hit me today that I know exactly how many times I have cried in the last year.

I've never been one to shed tears. Even as a very small child, I'd have a bad fall and adult would wince or suck in an alarmed breath, ready to swoop in, only to see me pop right back up and keep running. If I did cry, it was heart-stopping for my parents, since it meant I had managed to badly hurt myself. Even the time I split my scalp open falling against the sharp angle of a wall, I calmly walked downstairs and told my mom I'd hurt my head, covered in blood, sniffling slightly. "If you'd just have cried," she told me once, "you'd have saved me about a dozen heart-attacks."

Physical pain doesn't really do much to stimulate my tear ducts, but media can really get to me. Every now and again a scene in a movie will hit me in the right spot, or, more likely, a song. Suddenly I'll be blubbering away in a darkened theatre -- or, much more embarassingly, in the bathroom of a bar, because a song came on and a sick wave hit my stomach and now I have to wait in the stall until the swelling in my face goes down.

I suppose this is a round-about way of saying that I would much rather break my arm than my heart. Not having much practice being miserable -- and even less practice crying -- I don't know how to manage it. I feel like my face has suddenly sprung a leak. I am afraid to leave my house, knowing that at any moment a sound or a smell can leave me losing fluids. The rational part of my brain might be sitting back exasperated, even offended by the fact that some fucking John Mayr song has such power over me. My face becomes a traitor.

Happiness holds a return to stoicism. I can trust myself, knowing that I might be moved, even knocked breathless by something, I might squeeze out a tear or two, but I will probably be able to keep from becoming dehydrated.
Natalie Zed updated @ 12:32 a.m.!! 0 comments

Thursday, December 31, 2009

As the ball drops

Tonight, my plans include eating greasy food, watching Evil Dead, and listening to a lot of metal (mostly courtesy of Coatsworth). My plans *also* include being awfully bloody happy that this year has finally gotten over itself and ENDED.

A friend of mine told me recently that, had he only read my blog and not known me in person, he would take me for a far less happy person than I am. And truth be told, I am ferociously, obnoxiously positive most of the time. But there is something about having this little island of electronic publishing all my own that creatively inspires me to bitch.

2009 was not horrible. After the mangled trainwreck of a shitshow that was 2008, The Worst Year Of All Time, 2009 couldn't *possibly* be that bad. And it wasn't -- a lot of lovely things happened. However, a lot of very challenging, unexpected things happened too, and despite my ridiculous reserves of energy and stubbornness, by the end I confess I am worn down. I am ready for something fresh. I am ready for a beginning.

So, to commemorate the end of a difficult year (and a difficult, wonderful, strange decade), I've decided to balance my whiny-ness and positivity, and generate a pair of lists.

6 Awesome Things That Actually Happened in 2009

- I traveled around Canada quite a bit, visiting Calgary, Vancouver (twice!) and even Northern Ontario. Vancouver in the summer is shockingly beautiful.

- I spent a full month in Los Angeles, teaching, sightseeing, and getting the first real tan of my blond, pasty life.

- I finished a full draft of my next book, Supervillains, and managed to talk the astonishingly talented (and just plain cool dude) Evan Munday into illustrating it.

- I attended Chris and Sandy's awesome wedding and the Calgary reunion that sprang up around it, reconnecting with people I care about deeply. I also got to stand in Emily ad Jim's wedding. I've known Emily since we were both three years old, and it was an incredible honour to be at her side that day.

- My younger brother received a SSHRC, started his MA, traveled to Europe, and moved in with his delightful girlfriend. Basically, he managed to become and even cooler human being, and made me even prouder of him.

- I got better. I cannot overstate and enormity of this positive thing. Late in 2008, I started to consider myself well on the way to being healed, if only because I was so much better than I had been. Then something incredible happened: I KEPT FEELING BETTER AND BETTER. It did give me pause, wondering exactly how long it had been since I was really happy. But then I stopped being all philosophical, because this year I became really fucking happy, and I could not ask for a greater gift from the universe.

6 Cartoonishly Awful Things That Also Actually Happened in 2009

- I got laid off, got rehired to teach a workshop abroad, lost my job again (permanently), and nearly found replacement jobs twice only to have them fall through at the eleventh hour. All told, I spent nearly five months without any income.

- I was served with divorce papers, received my judgment a full four months late, and got my Certificate of Divorce in the mail. Getting my certificate was actually a great relief, as that was the last bit of paperwork that will every have to be processed around my own personal disaster. However, it was still a part of The Thing That Happened, and therefore counts as Cartoonishly Awful.

- I came down with H1N1 at the exact same moment as one of my roommates, meaning that for a solid week all the two of us could do was moan, drink tea, and be nonsensically feverish while my other, saintly roommate got us to drink warm, nourishing liquids and silently cursed us for being human petri dishes.

- My uncle Ron, dear friend of my parents, who officiated both at my baptism and my wedding, died after a long battle with illness. His passing was a very hard one.

- I may have finally had The Falling Out To End All Falling Outs, something that has been brewing on my life's horizon for a very long time. While it is a decision as much as it was an occurrence, and I know it is a correct decision besides, is has still been incredibly difficult and draining.

- My ability to sleep, which has always been fickle, has taken to deserting me again this year. While it does help me get things done, it has done nothing to alleviate the rather impressive dark circles developing under my eyes.

So it's been a year of recovery and travel and celebration. It's also been a year of sleeplessness, death, poverty, and loss. While it was never simply wonderful, or simply horrendous, the rollercoaster did get overwhelming by the end. For that alone, I will be glad to see this year draw to a close.

Though, neither is that fully a complaint. In a line in a Kimya Dawson song that I love, she sings "my rollercoaster's got the biggest ups and downs/ as long as it keeps going 'round it's unbelievable."

So here's to 2010: may the coming year, and the coming decade, be even more ridiculous than the last.

p.s. I want a hovercar.


Natalie Zed updated @ 5:43 p.m.!! 2 comments

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Metal Show Etiquette

Inspired by Heathenfest (with Eluveitie, Belphegor, Alestorm, Kivimetsan Druidi, and Vreid) here are some rough guidelines Lily and I came up with while not screaming, drinking, or getting kicked in the back. These are not really instructions, since most people at metal shows already follow these guidelines and are shockingly nice, but rather observations based on the average cordial metalhead's show behaviour.

-- Be friendly! Everyone here is probably awesome.

-- Identify your needs for the evening and situate yourself accordingly. If you just want to chill against the wall and listen, find that area. If you feel like going completely batshit insane, there's an area for you, too!

-- Don't be too sensitive. Even if you're on the calmest sideline, you might be accosted by someone's elbow. They probably didn't mean it.

-- Watch out for girls

-- Some girls want to be in the very centre of the craziest section of the pit. Watch out for them anyway.

-- People in the pit want to be on the pit; people who don't want to in the pit aren't in the pit. Don't shove someone in against their will (unless they're saying no with their lips but yes with their eyes).

-- People on the very edge of the pit should be treated like the bumpers in a pinball game.

-- If a dude goes down while in the pit, at least two, and preferably four, other dudes nearest to him must stop what they are doing and help him up.

-- If a girl goes down in the pit, everyone stops what they are doing until she is safely returned to an upright position.

--If a girl gets sucked into the pit against her will, use any means necessary to get her back out again, up to and including bodily throwing her to safely. (This actually happened to me).

-- Official security guards are almost invariably dicks. Don't incur their wrath.

-- Metal dudes who are working security are awesome. Buy them a drink.

-- If you're the biggest dude around and there's no security in sight, congratulations. You are now security. Sorry about that.

-- This is a tricky one, and hard to manage, but we appreciate it so much when it happens: pay attention to your comrade's footwear. Some are wearing steel-toed boots; some threadbare chucks. Try not to land directly on the feet of the poorer shod.

-- And finally, thank you all for taking the time to carefully groom before the show. While Lily and I were getting crushed and kicked and elbowed in the face during Alestorm, all we could smell was clean shampoo, deodorant, and fresh sweat. Awesome. Keep up the good work.


Natalie Zed updated @ 6:36 p.m.!! 1 comments

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Day of the Dead

Way back in the middle of June, I got a shit-ton of paperwork from my ex-husband's lawyer. After the agonizing wait for the year-long separation to run out, the time had officially come to file for divorce. I read through all the forms, scrawled my illegible signature across each one, and got them notarized. I sent them off the day before I left to spend a month in Los Angeles. While away, my ex sent me an email to let me know that the papers had been received and formally filed on July 12th, my twenty-sixth birthday. In a mere six weeks, the process should have been complete.

Four months passed. Because he had to file in the summer, most people working for the family court system were on vacation. This led to a huge backlog of paperwork and ridiculous wait times. All because every judge in that godforsaken city decided to spend six weeks at the cottage instead of placing three stamps and a signature on my divorce papers. Every day I would check the mailbox, and no matter what other goodies might be in there for me, I'd always swear a little under my breath when once again, my divorce judgment failed to show up.

And then, today, the Day of the Dead, after a very full weekend of Halloween-related debauchery, it finally arrived in a nondescript white envelope. The paperwork that officially severed my last remaining legal connection to my ex-husband.
I proceeded to pour myself an awful lot of bourbon over ice and am going to get blazing drunk. I can't imagine a more logical or appropriate course of action.

The process not completely over. 31 days after the judgment was granted, I can request a copy of my Certificate of Divorce, the last bit of paperwork that will ever need to be processed in the matter and something I will need if I ever want to get married again (ha. ha.). But the judgment is the important thing, the formal degree that the marriage I once had has been dissolved.

Because here's the thing: while I've been using the term ex-husband since Ed and I separated, we've still been married. We've been completely autonomous, completely apart, since I got on a plane at the end of June last year, and as more time and geographical distance elapsed and I started to scab and scar over. But the feeling of being somehow still being bound to another person that I would be perfectly content to never see or speak to again was deeply uncomfortable, and the wait has been awful.

I expected to want to celebrate. I expected to do an undignified dance and invite everyone I know out to drink with me. It's a kind of freedom, to be sure, but even more so it feels like a cauterization. An old wound that might have eventually gone bad has been reopened so it can finally heal. This is good; it also hurts like a motherfucker.

I have a high pain tolerance. Winter is almost here. Its the Day of the Dead. I'm ready.


Natalie Zed updated @ 8:11 p.m.!! 0 comments