Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Friday, September 28, 2007

A few reasons my future children will hate me

For writing books their friends' parents call obscene, for never keeping ordinary hours, for having friends and students and visiting writers coming and going at all hours, for going to battle with teachers and principals, for going crazy now and again, for refusing to purchase Lunchables, for my clothes, for my pink or green or blue hair, for my tattoos, for not being bland, for not being serene, for traveling all the time, for correcting their spelling or grammar or pronunciation, for supplementing their insufficient curriculae, for terrorizing the PTA, for the books on every wall, for knowing their secrets, for never relaxing, for making things up, for knowing things, for their vocabulary, for all the second hand clothing, for painting murals in their bedrooms, for cooking, for questioning everything, for their teachers expecting more form them, for never letting them off easy, for wearing sandals and combat boots, for singing, for drinking, for critically thinking, for screaming at the television, for all the aunts and uncles that aren't related to them at all, for refusing to tow the line, for having my won space, for making my own rules, for locking my doors, for locking my closets, for refusing to compromise, for being immune to whining, for not caring about popularity (mine or theirs), for making their friends' mothers cry, for making their friends' mothers furious, for getting along with their friends' fathers, for fixing things rather than buying new ones, for refusing to be thin, for calling them on their bullshit, for calling their friends' parents bullshit, for calling their school's bullshit, for bringing up pedagogy at parent-teacher interviews, for being tactless, for being sarcastic, for being crude when it gets
my point across, for refusing to be prudish, for making fun of everyone, for making light of tragedy, for taking strange things very seriously, for adopting stray animals, for healing baby birds, for taking in kids who are going through a rough time, for having an open door, for having an open kitchen, for flatly refusing to get out of bed, for making them give everything a fair shot before they're allowed to quit, for laughing at things they don't understand and refusing to explain, for bursting into tears and refusing to explain, for kissing their father in front of them, for grabbing their father's ass in from of the, for calling their father a jackass, for breaking dishes,
for buying cheap dishes at yard sales for the express purpose of breaking them to relieve stress, for taking them to museums and galleries, for taking them to endless readings, for their names in print, for being militant about personal hygiene, for being crazy about food safety and cleanliness, for not giving a hoot about how anything looks, for buying thing for myself form their book fair, for wearing costumes on Halloween, for talking dirty in public, for making them eat vegetables, for rarely buying candy, for reading food labels, for caring about chickens, for telling disgusting stories at dinner time, for singing the "wake up song," for kissing them, for snorgling them, for embarrassing them at the supermarket, for embarrassing them at school, for leaving the lights on, for not being able to drive, for baking rather than buying, for the other mothers' resentment, for the friends I cost them because the other mother's won't let their kids play with my kids, for never taking them to McDonald's, for always running in to get a coffee, for giving them cucumbers as a snack, for telling dildo jokes at their Play Group, for rolling my eyes, for yelling at parents who mistreat their kids, for yelling at people who mistreat their animals, for never minding my own business, for marshaling the troops to rescue a friend, for missing a recital and not being able to explain why, for migraines, for finding me asleep in the bathtub, for finding me asleep on the couch, for finding me asleep in the middle of the kitchen floor, for working sporadically, for never having a normal job, for not being a housewife, for getting excited about small and stupid things, for never leaving well enough alone, for spontaneously painting the walls, for buying girls cars and action figures, for buying boys dolls, for teaching their friends about heteronormativity, for being a klutz, for not being pretty, for not wearing make-up, for taking risks, for not being able to sneeze properly, for overhearing me and their father having sex, for overhearing their friends' parents speculate about what goes on in my house, for weeping, for singing, for disappearing for hours at a time, for being fiercely protective, for being fiercely loyal, for being stubborn, for never getting a manicure, for using bad words, for calling their teacher stupid, for laughing at them when then get in trouble for repeating that I called their teacher stupid, for tidying their stuff away, for arguing, for arguing well, for wearing their younger sibling in a sling, for finding the righteous indignation of those around me hilarious, for losing my shit, for loving them openly, for wearing offensive t-shirts, for asking perfume-sprayers in department stores if they received any training about migraine triggers, asking waitresses if they feel their youth and sexuality are being exploited, for challenging the patriarchy, for racing shopping carts in the aisles of the grocery store, for making them responsible for their own actions, for making them face the consequences, for making them self-sufficient, for still crying when they seem grown up, for sending them to bed when we';re still up and having fun, for sending them to bed so I can work, for sending them to bed because mom and dad need to settle some shit, for giving up nothing, for giving everything, for making them gifts, for resisting commercial holidays, for kicking them off the computer so I can work, for kicking them off the video game console because it's my turn, for making them look things up, for not doing it for them, for encouraging them to be better than me, for refusing to accept 'good enough,' for freezing fruit juice instead of buying Popsicles, for staying up all night and then sleeping all afternoon so when they come home from school (after letting themselves in with their own key) they make their own snack and start to watch cartoons which finally wake me up so I shuffle out of the bedroom swearing and tell them its pizza night because mommy hates everyone and they'd better get their father on the phone and tell him if he doesn't show up with a Blizzard in one hand and a bottle of JD in the other he's not allowed in the house.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 2:34 p.m.!! 2 comments

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blow-Out! #3

Wow. Proper post soon. Today, sleep and Gatorade.


Natalie Zed updated @ 11:43 a.m.!! 1 comments

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Ballad of the World's Saddest Cat

One Monday night, almost exactly 3 weeks ago, there was a filling Station meeting. On my way out the door, the cats escaped. I was cranky and running late, so I yelled for Ed to come and herd them back in the apartment, and left. The meeting went very well, as the Blow-Out planning was well underway and issue #39 has just arrived, so after some delegating and a few beer Tara and I called it a night and went to get some gelato.

Ed had decided to let the cats stay outside for an hour or so -- something we often do, as our back yard is fully fenced in and they love being outside. An hour after they'd escaped, he went to get them back in the house and discovered that George had already come in and appeared to be snoozing on the couch. After hunting Lydia down and hauling her growly petiteness downstairs, he settled into Resident Evil 4 on the Wii.

It wasn't until I got home around 9:30pm that we realized anything was wrong.

I walked in the door and George got up to say hello. But then he stopped and held up his left paw. He wouldn't out any weight on it. His eyes were wide and he seemed to be confused. I tried to look at his paw, but he got very distressed when I tried to touch it. It was clearly quite swollen and looked to me to be at an odd angle. Ed was just as stunned as I was and had absolutely no idea what might have happened to him. We had a very short conversation, grabbed the cat carrier and headed downtown to the 24-hour emergency vet.

After waiting about half an hour, a doctor was finally able to look at him. I had to hold him down and when she felt his paw, he screamed. Not meowed in protest. Screamed. By now it was so swollen that she couldn't tell by feeling if anything was broken, but said it honestly looked like a bee sting to her.. Just to be safe, though, she'd give him an x-ray.

Ten minutes later Ed and I were crowded up behind the doctor in the lab as she showed us the two bones that were badly fractured in his left foot. They'd have to keep him overnight, and in the morning a surgeon would see him. If they had to operate, we were told as gently as possible to prepare for a $5000 bill. George was by now sedated and loopy, but they let me say goodbye for a few minutes before we left him for the night. I wept in the car all the way back to Parkdale.

In the morning I got a very positive phone call: George didn't need surgery! They were able to anesthetize him and realign the bones manually, so once the cast was completely set and he had come down off the drugs somewhat, he could go home, probably right after dinner.

We got to the vet around 7pm and were immediately greeting by a very apologetic vet tech, which had apparently been trying to reach us while we were driving over.

Tech: There's...been a problem with George.
Me: What's worng?
Tech: You can't take him home.
Me: [imagining my cat in emergency surgery or dead]
Tech: [sees the look on my face] Oh, he's just fine!
Me: [pees in releif] What happened?
Tech: Well...

She proceeds to explain that while the alignment was a success, the casting process was not. George, my sweet, dumb, docile cat, apparently becomes some sort of Houdini/McGuyver hybrid under pressure. He managed to chew through 4 fibreglass casts and remove 3 splints, all while doped up. He tore up his paw pads and broke some of his claws form all the struggling. As she told me this, her face became very solemn.

Tech: We've never seen anything like it.

So we had to leave him there overnight again. I managed not to cry until I was in bed that night, still missing a cat.

By the next morning they'd finally managed to get a splint on him that he seemed content to leave on, and they called up to come pick him up. By now he was well on his way to becoming the Saddest Cat in the World. They had a cone on him to keep him from chewing his 8th cast off. His leg was encased in a splint and lots of yellow self-adhesive gauze. There was a shaved and bruised patch of skin on his right foreleg where he's yanked out his IV, and another shaved spot on his right thigh where they'd had to reposition the IV. His eyes were squinty from the drugs and his voice was hoarse.

We took him home, gave him his first painkiller as instructed, and then I nearly had a panic attack when he bit into the pill instead of swallowing it and started FOAMING AT THE MOUTH. I made the first of dozens of calls to the emergency vet, who reassured me (as they always reassured me) that it was just because it tasted bad. After dry heaving and cleaning up cat spit, we sat George on the couch between us and tried to keep him as comfortable and still as possible while he healed.

But The World's Saddest Cat had other plans. Two days after we brought him home, we had to take him back to the vet because one of his toes was bleeding. He'd stubbed it, we were assured, and they re-splinted it just to be safe. As the weekend, and out trip to PAX, approached, he seemed to get better, stumping around the house a little, eating some kibble. Neil came to catsit for us and we left for Seattle, assured that there would be no further complications.

When Neil came to get us at the airport, on Monday, he hugged Ed and I hello and then broke the news that George's toes were looking a little off, and still bleeding, so he'd taken him back to the vet. Again. They once again kept him overnight, and when they took the splint off discovered that he'd managed to ulcerate between 2 of his toes and the whole thing would have to be redone. He managed to get out of a couple more casts before they finally got a new plaster cast on, as well as a new cone. In order to get the new cast to stay on, they'd shaved his leg and stuck it to him with surgical adhesive. It also, extended a good inch past the end of his foot to let his toes heal.

He mooed pathetically when we came to pick him up. He had now fully transformed into the World's Saddest Cat.

For the first few days, we kept him in the bathroom for the majority of the time, just like our vet told us, to limit his movement. We held him as much as we could, but whenever we were gone into the bathroom he went. Which was fine...until nigh fell. We had to put him in the bathroom to sleep, and he hated it.

He howled. All. Night. Long.

By the fourth night of not sleeping, even with earplugs, we both broke and brought him into bed. IN his agitation, we reasoned that he was stumping around and jumping on and off the toilet so much that it was probably worse for him to be in thee than it was to just have him still in bed. It may be an excuse, but he did (and does) stay in bed with us all night.

Then. Ah, then. Then he figured out how to get his cone off.

I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it, but what he managed to do was balance himself with his cast, sit, and use all 3 functioning legs to shimmy the come off his head. It was a feat of acrobatic wonder. I called the vet for the millionth time and they said were it any other cat they wouldn't believe me either, but this was Houdini cat, the Stubbornest Cat Ever to Live, so they said as long as he didn't chew his cast, it was okay.

Over the last week or so, George has settled in. He stumps around a little, but walking is hard on a leg too long so most of the time he just lounges and tries to look as miserable as possible so we'll feel bad for him and give him human food. He ran out of painkillers, but he doesn't seem to be in may real discomfort aside form the awkwardness of hopping around. He's confined his destructive urges to moderate fretful licking, so this cast seems to be staying in place.

But he hates it all. He is so sad. He lays there, sighs deeply, and they utters a long, trembling "mooooooo" to let you knowhow sad he is about every 20 minutes. He'll take a few steps, fall over with a dramatic Floomp and put his head down, because he is so miserable he cannot bear to keep his head up and instant longer.

You too can own the Saddest Cat In All the Land. Ours cost us a mere $1500.

I hope you feel better buddy.


Natalie Zed updated @ 6:04 p.m.!! 4 comments

Friday, September 07, 2007

Blow-Out! #3


is thrilled to announce...

The Third Annual


Friday, September 14 – 7:00 PM

Saturday, September 15 – 1:00 PM

Saturday, September 15 – 7:00 PM

All Events at the Carpenter’s Union Hall

(310 10th St NW)


This explosive literary festival puts the spotlight on Calgary’s talented writing community, featuring over twenty poets, playwrights and fiction writers that are either locally-based, or who have strong ties to the city.

Friday night: September 14th, 7pm

host: Natalie Simpson
Emily Elder, Helen Hajnoczky, Mark Hopkins, Brea Burton, Shane Rhodes, Jani Krulc, Jaspreet Singh, Robert Majzels
The Lonely Hunters

Saturday afternoon: September 15th 1pm
host: ryan fitzpatrick
readers: Ian Kinney, Ross Priddle, Kevin McPherson-Eckhoff, Chris Ewart, Weyman Chan
music: Heather Blush

Saturday night: September 15th, 7pm
host: derek beaulieu
readers: Emily Carr, Bronwyn Haslam, Peter Norman,
Laurie Fuhr, Aaron Giovannone, William Neil Scott, Sina Queyras
film: Garth Whelan

Of course, there’ll also be books, booze and the long-awaited launch of filling Station #39!

All events are absolutely FREE and open to the public. Join us in celebration of Calgary’s booming literary talent!


Natalie Zina Walschots

Managing Editor, filling Station



The Calgary Blow-Out! was founded in 2005 as a celebration of Calgary’s vibrant literary community. The former Managing Editor of filling Station, derek beaulieu, founded the event out of good-natured frustration when he realized there was simply too much happening in the Calgary literary scene to see it all, and so he created the Blow-Out! as a fête for the community at large. This is filling Station’s third annual Calgary Blow-Out!

ABOUT filling Station

filling Station is a literary magazine based in Calgary, Alberta, that is dedicated to showcasing innovative poetry, fiction, drama, film and visual art, and to promotion local and international arts communities. This year’s Calgary Blow-Out! will see the launch of filling Station’s 39th issue.


Natalie Zed updated @ 12:16 p.m.!! 1 comments