Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You've Been Warned

This is going to be a gooey one. Batten down the hatches.

In September 2002, I was in the thrid year of my undergrad at the University of Windsor. I was also working in a bank, a soul-destoying institution with migraine-inducing flourescent lighting and the customer service principles of the Spanish Inquisition. Two things kept me sane at this job: being a complete smartass with access to a 'waive fee' button, and Courtney. Courtney and I would stand at wickets next to each other and bitch through our days. Her Customer Face was a blank, bovine expression of complete vacancy that just cracked me up, whereas my Persona was Tweety McSunshine. We'd crack each other up all day and somehow make it thrugh eight hours.

It was in September that I noticed Courtney begin to get noticeably happier. Knowing her to be cut from the same cloth as I was, that of Cynical Work-Hating Fiend-Girl, I questioned the change. She told me she'd started going swing dancing, and told me I should come with her. I knew I would be very bad, and I went anyway. Any excuse to get drunk and make a complete fool of myself on a dance floor.

So I started dancing, and was indeed very bad. But everyone was very nice and eager to help me learn and I soon knew enough to muddle through. It was my third or fourth night out when Courtney suddenly became all a-twitter: Ryan, a chainsmoking readhead and object of her affections, had just arrived, along with his two roommates. I looked over, intending to tease her for her taste for crass men with shit-eating grins, and saw him.

He was a thin man with an olive complexion, wearing dress pants and a white shirt, suspenders, and a fedora. He had wire rimmed glasses. His eyes were brown, but had a brightness to them that I'd learn later was a faint greenish-gold quality that was really only visible in the sun. Courtney knew something was up. I was actually being quiet.

It was Julia who introduced us. She'd been in a couple of musicals with Ed and a few classes with me. I shook his hand and discovered his engineering ring. I am sure I tried to seem very intelligent and failed miserably. He still smiled and tried to help alleviate a cramp in my hand with a miniatiure massage. He smelled like cologne and cinnamon and shaving cream.

We soon discovered that Wednesday nights, swing nights at The Loop (the bar that let the dancers take over), Ed had a class that ended at 6:50pm and I had one that began at 7pm. I think I attended that class exactly twice (midterm and final exam) after I met him, as it seeme there was always a coffee or dinner or conversation that simply Had To Take Place regardless of that particular historical option.

We had our First Actual Date, which neither of us admitted it was at the time due to the fact I was a Bad Person and Seeing Someone Else At The Time, at a french restaurant called La Cuisine. We had chicken in a mustard sauce and chocolate/banana/ice cream crepes. It might have been the chocolate, or the fact this restaurant smelled like heaven ought to smell, but I sat across a table from this man and felt a cynical, dried up place in my heart suddenly fill up. I knew, unequivocally, that I was in Serious Trouble.

I can only be thankful now that Ed looked across from the other side of that table at a skinny girl with no boobs and too much hair and thought he might be in Serious Trouble too. He found himself in enough trouble, in fact, that he decided to stick around through The Break-Up of Mythic Proportions (I often refer to it as my Divorce to communicate the amount of skin I lost in the tearing off of that particular bandage). He stuck around through a conversation with my parents that began: "Hi mom and dad; though I am only nineteen, I'd like you to meet my 28-year-old boyfriend! teehee!" He stuck around when I was applying to graduate school and losing my mind about moving away, and then when I was in Calgary and miserably lonely and calling him to scream complete nonsense at him for hours at a time. He finally MOVED TO CALGARY, and then stuck around even though it was -40 for his first THREE SOLID WEEKS in the city.

May 8th, 2005, on our way home from getting some groceries, Ed and I had a Conversation. We talked about getting married, what it would mean, how much work would actually be involved. I was firmly of the mind that if there was a way we could elope (or near enough to it) and still have my mother speak to me, that was the way to go. He was quiet for the rest of the busride home. I was putting away some veggies when he took my hands, led me over to the sofa, and said that he'd been thinking. That his reservations really suddenly seemed much more smoke and mirrors than valid points. And that, since we were going home that July anyway, why didn't we see if we could shanghai most of the people in our families for a day and do it. July 29th, we were married. My mother, bless her heart, baked my cake and made my flowers, and still speaks to me all the time.

On August 18th, Ed turned 32. We had a great steak dinner and saw Snakes on a Plane. Most importantly, for me, is that we celebrated the birth of my favourite person in the world.

Ed has often told me that he doesn't understand the point of birthdays, all the hullabaloo just because someone is one year older. However, since I was graced with the luck to have gone dancing on a particular night and met someone who smells so great and can code so well, I think I understand. 32 years ago, a very little baby was born. He soon had golden ringlets and a great smile and obnoxiously good pronunciation. That day, a little person came into the world who had grown up to make me impossibly, deleriously happy.

32 years ago, my partner was born. I'll raise glasses to that miracle for the rest of my life.
Natalie Zed updated @ 11:25 a.m.!! 1 comments

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rock out with your Bok out

It being exactly 2 weeks since Bokfest 2006, It's high time that I hunker down and write about an occasion that consumed many hours and a lot of Bourbon over the past few months. I couldn't write about it here until now, as the whole procedure was Top Secret. Only now, after allt he proper channels have been navigated and security clearances met, and I at liberty to talk about what occurred on August 2nd, 2006:

Christian Bok's 40th birthday party.

That's the luminous Bill Kennedy in the background. Bill flew all the way out from Toronto to help us celebrate, because Bill is an awesome guy. I am fiercely jealous of his poetry machine, that not only writes for him, but what it writes is GOOD. jealousy.

Anyhoo. Maybe six months ago, derek and I were having a coffee and having one of those discussions where we were both deciding to Do Things. you know the conversations, where you and your co-converser suddenly experience an overabundance of Fantastic Ideas and separate, planning all the Great Things you'll now accomplish. The danger with said conversations is derek and I are far more likely than most to actually go through with said ridiculous ideas. In derek's case, his Idea was The Calgary Blow-Out 2: The Blowening (August 24-26th at Motel in the Centre for Performing Arts). As for me, I started planning a simple birthday party that escalated to an all-out extravaganza.

Thanks to everyone who read: derek beaulieu, ryan fitzpatrick, Louis Cabri, kevin mcpherson-eckhoff, Jason Christie, and Bill Kennedy. Thanks to Jocelyn and James for wishing they could. All the performaces were exemplary. Everyone made me so proud.
Extra-special thanks to derek, who was unfailingly supportive and let me borrow his iron. Thanks to everyone who made ephemera and doodads or just came by to eat a hotdog and have a great time. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to Christian's beautiful and generous partner, Brigitte, who was a scrumptious co-conspirator and kicked in more time and effort and other help than I could have possibly asked for.

Finally, thanks to Christian Bok for being a tremendous positive force in the Calgary literary community, for being unfailingly supportive of my own work and career, and for being a very good friend. You deserve all the hotdogs and chapbooks and embarassing readings from Dragin magazine life has to throw at you.

Natalie Zed updated @ 10:45 a.m.!! 1 comments

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Two Posts in One Day?

I know. I know. However, humble readers, I have news:

I am, of this moment, officially a cheesemonger. Someone is actually going to pay me decent money to spend 5-8 hour shifts hanging about in a cheese shop, making tapenade, and drawing on the chalkboard. I am going to be paid to attend MANDATORY cheese-and-wine tasting classes. This is part of my TRAINING.

Taking a year off is getting better and better. =)
Natalie Zed updated @ 3:48 p.m.!! 3 comments

Let's start with the eyebrows

I know I still have catching up to do, with Bokfest and camping and many other things to be recounted, but let's start with this.

My brother, the awesomest brother ever, lives in Calgary now. Since he's moved to the city, the most common exclamation uttered (other than "Shut your filthy mouth!" and "There's motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!") when we aere in the same room together is "You two look so much alike!" Neither of us had really considered this until it was pointed out to us so frequently, but when we really compared features (especially now that I have my commando, please-grow-out-soon hair), we had to admit there was a very similar combination of Mihailovsky-Walschots genes working us over something fierce.

I look alot like both of my parents, and I will be declared the "spitting image" of either one of them depending on whom I am standing near at the time. I have my dad's hair and viking colouring, his butt chin and his propensity to say absolutely ridiculous shit with little to no provocation. I have my mother's general facial construction, her laugh, and her mania towards keeping my house sanitized and filled with the aroma of things baking. I have two different feet, one from each side of the family.

There are, however, some aberrations. There are some things about my, physical or chemical in nature, that seem to have no genetic source the I can puzzle out. Mutations, if you'd like. Here are a few of my particularly interesting deformities that I'd dearly like to know the origins of.

1) The Ankles. I have two huge, bony, independant sets of ankle bones on each foot. This would be fine if it just looked wierd -- I could earn some pocket money charging two bits a gander. However, it also makes wearing any shoes that might be described a cute a painful ordeal that invarialy ends with me asking a passer-by, bus driver, or waiter in Thai Sa-On for a bandaid.

2) The Nose. My mother has an adorable little nose. My dad has a honker (or, as he describes it, "a little pug nose"), but it is a completely different shape. I, however, have this schnozz that confounds logic. It's probably an unfortunate result of too many genes colliding.

3) The Height. Walschotses are tall people. Most of my aunts are very tall, lanky women, and my great uncles are almost uniformly over 6 feet. My dad felt like the short one in the family becase he's "only" 5'11". My mom is petite, but notably taller than me, and my Mima was taller still when she was still at her full height. I was a big baby, always at the top of my growth percentile. When I was in kindergarten, I was the biggest kid in my class. I clearly remember my pediatrician telling my parents that I might be as tall as 6 feet when I grew up. Maybe I would be a model like my aunt.
Then, something magical happened. I turned twelve or thirteen, hit the tiniest and saddest little spurt of puberty ever recorded, and stopped growing. Stopped. Growing. All those genes suddenly deserted me, popping any hope of an adulthood with long delicate limbs. Having angered the Gods of Tallness through some unremembered offense, I am doomed to be short girl with short legs who can never find pants that fit and who will get carded trying to see an R-rated movie on her 27th birthday.

4) The Teeth. My dad claims he had teeth like me in his youth. He'd be wrong, see, because his teeth are straight. I spend a good five formative years looking like a vampite when I smiled. For a pasty kid with glasses who read a lot, adding vampire teeth into the equation did not help.
They've straightened as I got older, mostly due to the fact I had my wisdom teeth ripped out of my skull which opened up some gum real estate, but I still have weird crooked teeth. If I don't pay attention when I smile, they still get caught on my lips in a way that says "I never"

5) The Gastro-Intestinal System. There have been some guesses, some hypotheses thrown out there as to why I am so cruelly afflicted. My mom has hinted at a similar affliction in her younger days, but always qualifies this with the ominous qualifier "but never like that." My dad, of course, thinks it's hilarious. I can remember him just killing himself with laughter when his five-year-old daughter could regularly break the toilet and he, a large full-grown man, never managed to. I don't know who's genetic code is responsible for this, but I am not amused. I just want to be able to eat cheese and poop like a normal person. To be able to use a public restroom and not come back to the table in a panic, asking my table companions to settle the bill quickly before any staff realize what is taking place in the ladies room. And to not have conversations through the bathroom door with my husband that to any eavesdropper would sound like he was trying to remove a bullet from my leg like the Doc on Deadwood. I pray this is indeed a mutation, because the thought of my future children suffering such bowel disruption wakes me up at night.

Enjoy your normal-ankled, small-nosed, tall-personed, straight-teethed, poop-filled lives, fuckers.
Natalie Zed updated @ 2:17 p.m.!! 2 comments

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

365 days of warm squishies

a preface: many things have happened. I have updated. I am a bad blogger. I am going to try and rectify that with several posts in the next fews days. Forgive my laziness.

* * *

On July 29, this past Saturday, Ed and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. One year ago, when I still had a lot more hair and a bit more weight, I woke up on a Friday morning, took a bath, started painting my toenails, then suddenly realized that in a handful of hours I would be married. One dress, may hugs, and some greta hugarian food later, Ed and I found ourselves pulling into a B&B about an hour away from Windsor, looking over at each other, realizing that crazy day had just happened to us. We had actually agreed, in front of all our immediate family and some of our very best friends, that we were going to put up with each other for the rest of out lives.

It's been a huge year. Ed started a very good, very demanding new job after languishing away as a contactor for months, while still adjusting to life in a new city and rebuilding a social network form scratch; I, as usual, spent that last 12 months running around like a maniac between writing, work, working on the thesis, finishing classes, teaching, dANDelion, and everything else. It seems like now, finally, we've settled in a bit and are properly adjusting to being married. A year in, it really feels like we're just beginning.

So, to celebrate the herculean victory that was all the crazies and the lovelies from the previous year, we took a drive up into the Kananaskis to stay at a resort for the weekend.
That was the view from our room.

We spent the weekend wandering about the place, which is smack dab in the middle of mountains and trees and doesn't even seem possible. We spent a good deal of time in the indoor-outdoor hot tob (Well, Ed spent a lot of time in it. I'd quickly get too hot, get out, jump in the pool to cool off, sit by the edge, gradually ease back in, get too hot...). We also sat outside wrapped in large fluffy bathrobes and played New Super Mario Bros.: Battle Mode on our DSes. I napped. Ed had an excellent steak sandwich. The only problem was I wanted to stay a week, not a weekend.

On Sunday morning, Ed and I checked out nicely on time and hdeadded in to Banff to the Banff Springs Fairmont for their Sunday brunch. We'd been told it was expensive, but it was one of those things we simply had to do. We got our three hour parking permit and used all of the time alotted to us. Twice, we were offered the bill and waved it away, as we were just resting, and shortly got up for another plate. It was, as all the reviews said, amazing. I still think about the tequila lime mussles, now and again.

After that, we were planning on wandering around Banff for a few hours, but feeling like a pair of beached wales, we instead drove home and took a much needed, digestion-aiding nap. I was a glrious, restful weekend, and I can't imagine it going any more perfectly. It was what we needed. Next year, we might go back to the south of France. Or we might go back to the exact same place.
Natalie Zed updated @ 1:42 p.m.!! 0 comments