Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Monday, July 30, 2007

Twice Upon a Time

Today -- well, technically yesterday, now -- is our second anniversary. Two years ago today, Ed and I got married in the tiny chapel next to the University of Windsor campus, the same place my own parents were married in 1969. When we describe our wedding, we tend to say that we eloped. While this is not completely technically true, as our immediate families were present and there was a pseudo-reception at a nearby restaurant, our wedding was certainly much, much smaller than any other I've attended. The total number of people present, including us and the officiator, was 36. This number is only as high as it it because Ed is the youngest of 8 siblings.

Saying that we eloped also feels right because it gets across exactly how quickly the while thing came together. We got engaged in the middle of May, and were married 2 1/2 months later in Ontario. In that time, we had to plan the wedding long distance, go to marriage prep and take care of all the paperwork, and keep the whole thing a secret. We wanted something small, and we knew our families. Loving and well-meaning, the entire thing could have exploded into a weddingstravaganza. So we went through 2 months of covert planning, showed up in Ontario, then called everyone to say we were getting married, and if they wanted to come, they'd better show up at this place and time in a week.

So, in spirit if not in fact, Ed and I eloped two years ago. To celebrate, I made us blinchiki for breakfast, then went to work for 6 hellish hours. I came home and promptly made myself a lethal bourbon and coke with lime to take some of the pain away. Buzzing, we showed up at the restaurant an hour and a half early because we were hungry and it's, like, right there up the hill. They were very nice and sat us anyway. We had prosecco, because every celebration needs some bubbles. The meal was very good, and dessert was very good, and the 30-year Portugese port was excellent.

We got home and our apartment was the temperature of a furnace. Both cats were spread-eagled n the linoleum in the kitchen, complaining. The combination of the heat, of of red meat in my belly, the motherfucking period that will never end, and the fact that I'd made myself good and drunk by then, conspired to make me fall completely asleep almost instantly. At 8:30pm. When we were supposed to go see Die Hard: Dying the Hardest. I woke up at 11:30pm and Ed was reading Harry Potter on the couch, and I felt like a shit. So we snuggled and checked our email on the borrowed laptop, and went to bed a little after midnight. In other words, or anniversary celebrations were rather low-key.

Despite the quiet and my narcolepsy, I have a lot to celebrate. Ed is my favourite person in the world. And, miraculously, he is still at my side. The first year of our marriage was very dark time for me. During that year, I made myself ill trying to finish my coursework, teach classes, run a magazine, apply for my PhD, and finish my thesis in the same year. It was impossible, but I drove myself crazy trying. I was inconsolably upset a lot of the time when I was around Ed. I could hold my shit together in public, but once it was just the two of us I would implode. I couldn't always articulate the real reason that I was upset, that the idea of not finishing my thesis on time and all the rest was killing me and was psychologically tormenting me on a minute by minute basis, keeping me form falling asleep at night. Often, I was just upset, and I couldn't tell him why, and he'd get frustrated, which would make me more upset. Deeply buried neuroses made their appearances. On one memorable occasion, crockery was thrown.
The first year of our marriage was difficult. It's hard, even painful to admit, but I have made my peace with it. We did not have a honeymoon year; we had a challenge.

The second year, I am thrilled to report, has been unbelievably, inexpressibly better. Last September, when I finally had to turn down PhD offers and associated funding, I realized I could either have a breakdown or slow the fuck down, take my time, and just finish the thing when I finished. I developed a work schedule that was sane. Ed left the job that was making him miserable, and really blossomed in a more positive environment. We picked apart some of our insecurities. We learned to spend time apart. Ed and I often have to travel separately because of different commitments and vast differences in vacation time, and we learned to do this. We learned to be supportive of each other and still remain independent. This year, we've grown into two people who are actually better for each other than we were when we met.

Standing at the beginning of our third year as a married couple, it's already shaping up to be a doozy. My book is coming out, and I'll be going on the Great Canadian Literary Disaster of 2007 that will be the tour. I'll be reapplying to the PhD program. I am the Managing Editor of filling Station now, which is going to be crazy. Ed had some potential, and significant, career changes coming up. There's going to be a lot of travelling and working and general craziness. To cap off our third year, we'll finally be going on the honeymoon that has so far been out of reach. By then, by some miracle, we may even be better for each other than we are now. I can't imagine it yet, but if anyone can do it, we can.


Natalie Zed updated @ 2:25 a.m.!! 1 comments

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Between the Christening, Holy Beep!, Deathly Hallows, the Great Cheese Refrigeration Crisis 2007, and Ed's Network Plus Extravaganza, too much has happened. Instead, I am going to write about what is coming. Because nothing spells doom quite like trying to dictate the future. Seeing as I have a crush on Doom, I'd say it's worth the risk.

In 72 hours, I will be on a plane heading for Ontario. I'll be in Windsor/Amherstburg from August 1st til the 9th and in Toronto from the 10th until the 15th. For the first 10 days or so, I'll be staying with my parents, eating my mother's excellent cooking, taking long walks, and fending off mosquitoes. I'll also be visiting everyone I haven't seen in WAY TOO LONG, meeting some babies for the first time, seeing some kids that I haven't seen since they were babies. At least once, I'll be going to Bubi's and eating a deadly amount of garlic and deep fried dough. I intend to recharge.

In TO, I'll be staying with Gennie, spending all the time I can with my girls, glorying in the heat and humidity. I can't wait to see Gennie's new apartment. I can't wait to see Em and congratulate her, really and in person, on the huge positive life change she's made and how much happier and healthier I know she is. I can't wait to see Tiff and thanks her, from the bottom of my heart, for my socks. I can't wait to see Jess and Tom and meet Rohan for the first time.

Just before I leave, with a little luck, I'll be taking care of the very last bits of paper work associated with my thesis. If luck is not on my side, it'll have to wait until I return from my biannual Ontario recharge. Either way, my thesis is in it's epilogue stage. For how well my defense went and how rockin' the associated party was, there was something anticlimactic about the experience. Once the hangover wore off, there were still revisions to make forms to get signed and copies to be bound. Now, very soon, it'll be completely over. When that happens, I have a feeling I am either going to settle down on the couch with a few ounces of Scotch and feel very proud of myself, or gulp back a few ounces of Scotch and have a good cry. Either way, it is almost over.

I am also starting to plan the Book Tour, which was originally going to be fun, breathlessly exciting, but pretty standard for a first book reading-and-drinking-extravaganza. Now, however, it's gotten completely out of hand, and completely awesome. The plan, as it stands, is for William Neil Scott, ryan fitzpatrick, and I to load ourselves, out books, and survival gear into a retro-fitted short bus and drive across the breadth of Canada for 4 weeks, promoting the books and touring the literary landscape, while a documentary is made of our trip. It's going to be awesome. It's going to be insane. I may or may not survive.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 10:48 a.m.!! 0 comments

Friday, July 27, 2007

Beware of Attack Womb

We forewarned: this post contains a somewhat graphic account of menstruation and the phychosis that accompanies it. If you're squeamish, you might want to skip this one.

I am currently suffering from the worst period in memory. No one likes being on their period. This is not an ordinary, crampy-and-grumpy, going-to-bed-early, solved-by-chocolate period, however. I am horrifically bloated, I've had a headache for 6 days straight, I am bone-weary all day long and too uncomfortable to sleep through the night, I am swelling in places no one should swell, and I have the emotional constitution of a piece of wet tissue paper. Oh, and my uterus itself has turned into the vicious enforcer of my biological clock, reminding me through STABBING PAIN every 20 minutes or so that I really should be procreating RIGHT NOW. If I'd only get pregnant, it wouldn't be taking this lead pipe to my kneecaps.

To give you an idea how ridiculous I am, and how SAINTLY Ed is to out up with me, here is a list of things that have either caused me to weep hysterically, have a temper tantrum, or both. On some of these occasions, I may have also thrown something.

1) Not being able to fit into the jeans I really wanted to wear that morning.

2) Poking myself in the thumb with a staple.

3) Ed interrupting the song I was singing along to and skipping ahead a few tracks on the CD.

4) Realizing I only had enough whisky for 2 mixed drinks.

5) Getting a blister from my awesome gold skull shoes. It felt like such a betrayal.

6) Forgetting to switch over the laundry before I left the house, and having to think about the damp laundry sitting in the machine all day.

7) Rereading the Prince's Tale chapter in Deathly Hallows.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 4:20 p.m.!! 0 comments

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Will you still need me, will you still feed me...

...when I'm twenty-four?

Yesterday was my birthday. With everything else that's happened lately, I barely had time to even think about it coming up. It was an ambush birthday. Suddenly I had a day off, and before I could even get out of my pajamas two beautiful bouquets had arrived from my father-in-law and my Gennie. The newest, super-slick issue of Foursquare happened tp show up in the mail that morning too. My brother, Fiddy, and Meaghan soon dropped by to take me out to breakfast and book shopping. Fiddy even let me buy the copy of Of Grammatology the he was lucky enough to fine.

Neil came by around noon, still nursing a hangover, and we saw Transformers. While I agree that Michael Bay is a courge of contemporary cinema, and seeing his movies will only enocurage him, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It was beautifully shot, the effects were great (especially the sound and foley work), and the baby geek in me squee'ed for joy every time Optimus Prime was on screen. There were robots and explosions. I really can't complain.

That evening, Ed and I went to dinner at Big Fish. The service was exceptional and the fod very good, though I know I would have enjoyed my grilled salmon more if Alberta wasn't the temperature of the surface of the sun right now. I held icecubes in my hands and put them in my shoes in a vain attempt to keep cool. The steamed clams with lemongrass were particularly awesome. Even Ed tried one.

The highlight of the meal, though, was unquestionably the scotch I had after dinner: A 21-year-old Springbank that was supple and leathery with just a hint of smoke, with a really suprising fresh, exotic note (green apples and lychee) running though it. That freshness made it perfect for summer and for a meal featuring fish. I really, really wanted to run out and buy a bottle. I wonder if I should just give in and start a Scotch collection.

After I returned from alcohol nirvana, we hopped across town to have dinner at Nectar in Inglewood. I've had Rebekah Pearse's desserts before, but never visited her new space. Ed had the Chocolate Experience, and I had a darjeeling-tea flavoured creme brulee. Both were exceptional. I want to shedule a reading in the space, maybe in October, and pair some poetry with the spicy hot chocolate.

Afterwards, fat and happy, we stumbled home, recollected Neil, and stayed up far too late drinking wine and chatting with Natalee, Jeremy, Angela and Jonathan, sitting on the linoleum of the upstairs kitchen the coolest place in the house) talking about sharks and bears and families. By the time I fell in to bed, I hallucinated that I could see the faintest glimmer of blue outside, but managed to convince myself I as making it up.

Today still felt like my birthday. Despite having to work, I got a glass of very good shiraz fromt he folks next door, a chalkboard was decforated in my honour, and the Cheese Overlords rewarded me with a Cookbook Company gift certificate. Afterwards, Tara and I popped in to see Neil at the drunkening Part 2, and watched an episode of Planet Earth. Now, because I am young and cool and in the prime of my life, I am going to bed by 10 pm and hopefully sleeping for at least 12 hours. Also, my pajamas have frogs on them.

I can't be too grown up, after all.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 12:00 a.m.!! 0 comments

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Slingshot Wedding

I was up at 6am Yesterday, and finally collapsed a little after midnight. In between, I ate an elephant ear and cheese fries and boneless chicken wings, nearly threw up on the octopus ride, had my hand crushed by my very nervous husband, wore a snazzy pink dress, and got shot out of a giant slingshot.

It all started a few weeks ago. Natalee and Jeremy, our good friends who live in the apartment above us with their one-year-old twins, entered a contest on the internet. They'd been talking about getting married, but had no interest whatsoever in paying for or planning a wedding. Then, one day, they stumbled across a contest called Marriage on the Midway whose prize was a free, pre-planned, completely awesome wedding. At the Calgary Stampede. They immediately entered, and quickly found out they'd made it to the top then.

In order to win, they'd have to earn the most online votes. They turned to their friends and the internet for help. Ed and I would sit in front of the television with borrowed laptops, voting. Often, Jeremy voted for hours. There were calls over the local radio station and facebook groups and mass emails. In the end, the internet came through. With over 177,000 votes (a number that had to be repeatedly recounted and source-checked before the contest people could believe it was legitimate) Natalee and Jeremy won by a landslide.

11 days later, I strolled down the aisle in a fabulous, tasseled pink bridesmaid dress, my arm threaded through Colin's, grinning like an idiot. The flower girl's pink boots lit up whenever she took a step. Jeremy looked every inch a Dashing Riverboat Gambler in his knee-length coat and handlebar moustache. Natalee was absolutely gorgeous. Mo looked like a wild rose in a tiny pink dress, and Casey was every inch a miniature James Bond in his tux. There was a swarm of media and risers full of friends and family blowing bubbles, stomping their feet, and cheering.

After the ceremony and some pictures, everyone broke up and attacked the midway. Neil and I had made a pact to conquer the Slingshot together. As we approached, I almost chickened out. After some embarassing humming and hawing, during which a crowd of people who'd never let me live my cowardice down gathered, I finally agreed. Then the ride and groom arrived, and Jeremy wanted to do it with me too. There was no helping it: I'd have to ride the Slingshot twice.

There is a moment, at the apex of the ride, when the bungee is stretched as far as it will go, when the orb you're strapped into rotates. You can feel all your organs moving independently. It was AWESOME. I actually RAN to get in line to do it a second time. they gave me a t-shirt, which I wore over my dress for the rest of the day (and probably saved myself a nasty sunburn).

Ed has a notorious hatred for rides, stemming from some childhood trauma, but even he got into the spirit of the day and rode the Crazy Mouse (which was silly) and the Polar Express with me. On the Polar Express, I had my hands on the bar; Ed had his hand on mine. The faster the ride spun, the more nervous he became. He was also giggling, because despite his nervousness he was also having fun. I was also giggling because he was giggling; I was also giggling because he was crushing my hand and it was really funny despite being painful.

We stayed on the rides for hours, missing Nashville North. To cap off the day, we rode the bumper cars, which was the only ride I was really disappointed to get off. Watching my brother drive toward me like a maniac, his tongue sticking out in delicious anticipation of out cars colliding, is still one of the funniest things on the planet.

We met up with Natalee and Jeremy at the end of the day, just long enough to wish them well and hug them one last time. I met Ed at the house (I'd stayed much longer than he); Neil and my brother joined us shortly. We planned to go out! To drink! I party it up!

...then I promptly fell asleep on the couch, still wearing my Slingshot t-shirt. We finally settled on fast food and watching Fist of Legend.

This morning, Ed's forehead is peeling. I am trying to decide of my t-shirt belong in my closet or on my wall. Natalee and Jeremy's wedding stands as one of the highlights of the summer; I couldn't imagine an event more perfectly suited to them and their crazy neon midway love.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 11:44 a.m.!! 0 comments

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mistress of the Arts

I didn't even throw up before my defense.

It went really well. My committee was positive and supportive and asked good questions. I brought a huge stack of notes with me that I didn't refer to once. There as once question I KNEW I was going to be asked about my use of the abject; I was a little bit uncomfortable about my ability to answer this particular question, and of course it was asked first. It lasted about an hour and a half, which flew by. Waiting afterward while they deliberated felt much longer.

I passed. They asked for minor revisions, all of which I agree with. I've started making them already; I'll be done before the end of the month. I passed, and they all liked the project and wanted me to continue it.

I wanted, so badly, for it all to be over. I imagined that I'd defend and never want to look at Tonsil Hockey again. I wouldn't have to; I'd be free. All this experience did was make me want to keep working on it. It feels anticlimactic to be working on it a little more, but also a relief; I was not ready to let it go. Even when the final copy is handed in to Grad Studies, I can't see myself ever leaving it completely. Serves me right for starting an open ended project. Or serves me write.

Of course I got drunk. My mother had asked that I keep myself out of the hospital, and that I managed. That's about all I can say. Shelley and derek and Belinda all met me and the committee in the grad lounge for champagne. My external committee member and I talked about our cats and her art show.I was still plenty coherent then, just happy. Then at about 6, we wandered down to the Kensington pub. A small crowd, including Ed and my brother, were already there.

It went so fast. It seemed just about everyone came, even if they stayed just a few minutes. Even the people from work came out. I remember laughing a lot. There were nachos and 5-cent chicken wings, rye-and-cokes and rockstars. It was, inevitably, Paul Kennett who ended things. He and I did a shot of tequila. I felt much better after I threw up.

I almost fell asleep in a doorway at 2am, curled up on the cement steps, waiting for a cab to come. When we got home, I fell in bed and called for Ed to help me because my shoes were making me hot and I couldn't get them off by myself.

I felt surprisingly okay the next day. My brother, Natalee, Jeremy, Casey, Mo and I all went to Dairy Lane for the Best Breakfast Ever. Mike and I then went to The Farmer's Market for fruit. Mike finally had to go to work. I spent the afternoon in the back yard, letting the cats eat grass and chase moths in the sunshine. I thought about the work I had to do, and it made me happy.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 10:46 a.m.!! 0 comments

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Meatball Jr.

On Tuesday, I spent a good portion of the day at home. I had a brief meeting in the afternoon, but for most of the day I just read and lounged and basked in being Mostly Done.

My cats, however, were restless. They spent the day meowing and pawing and circling the floor around the hot water tanks. They were on Birdwatch 2007.

Once again, and bird had gotten in to one of the vents. This had hapened once or twice before. A sparrow would accidentally fall in, cheep for a bit, eventually find its way out or, on one occasion, find it's way out the wrong way and flap around my living room until we could escort it outside.

This bird was just not coming out. It fluttered and cheeped and seemed to be hvaing a really hard time. I went to my metting and returned. The bird was still there. The cats were rivetted. When the bird finally did emerge, they were determined To Be There.

At about 4pm, I heard a great commotion form the hallway. I assumed the bird had made its way out and the cats were having a fit. Then I heard the screaming.

I got to the hallway in time to see Lydia with the bird in her mouth, triumphant. the bird was pecking at her and sheiking with all it's tiny bird might. She dropped it; it ran (ran?) into the office. I shut the door, herded the cats into the apartment and went to see if the bird was okay.

The bird was nowhere to be found. An hour and a half later, when Ed came home, I was still looking. I'd pulled books off shelves, looked ebhind furniture, even gone through the closet. Nothing.

Edm who was exhausted, helped me look for a few minutes. Then he spotted my subwoofer. Cautiously he picked it up and tilted it; something inside fluttered. It had found a very small hole and hid inside.

Ed, exhausted and overcome with the surreality of it all, handed me a screwdriver, and shook his head, and went to bed.

I eventually succeeded in taking my woofer apart, and pulled out the bird. It was uninjured. It was also a baby. It would be flying soon, but not just yet.

Of course, we adopted it.

Just this morning, after a few short practice flights, it was strong and confident enough to fly up into a pine tree. It hasn't come down, so hopefully it's strong enough to rejoin it's flighted bretheren.

the cats are still somewhat disappointed that their snack reached maturity and escaped, but they're keeping a close eye on the vents in case another opportunity presents itself.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 3:22 p.m.!! 0 comments