Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Regarding my Availability

Once again, Amherstburg has managed to completely astound me. This town has to be, in the immortal words of Mariko Tamaki, "a goldfish tank of stupid (Skim)."

Yesterday was a Very Bad Day. I have good days and bad days. Over the last 10 weeks, the proportion of good days to bad has grown gradually. But this past week I had a string of bad days, culminating in a couple of Very Bad Days, days epic in their badness, complete with wailing and gnashing of teeth. By the second Very Bad Day, I had cried so much that the skin around my nose and the corners of my eyes have actually gone all scaly and dry from the tears and dripping and wiping. I call them my face scabs. I am so attractive.

It was on this day feeling like I was the most repulsive human being on earth and that nothing would ever be good again, that some punk ass ray of sunshine in the goddamn Walmart actually tried to console me by saying "well, at least you'll have fun dating again in Toronto!"
Natalie Zed updated @ 3:21 p.m.!! 0 comments

Friday, August 29, 2008

Breathtakingly Responsible

The internet has taught me many -- nay, innumerable valuable lessons. Just a few of these crucial tidbits of knowledge are as follows:

- Any website devoted to girls and seemingly innocent receptacles -- such as cups or tubs, of any number -- should be avoided at all costs.

- There is always someone who can beat your favourite video game faster, fancier and more completely than you.

- Cory Doctorow wears a cape and rides around in a hot air balloon.

- Yahtzee, the genius behind Zero Punctuation over at the Escapist, is the sexiest man alive.

- It is always unwise to talk about you job on the internet.

It is this last point that brings us to the subject of today's blog post. As part of the Project Natalie Relocates to Toronto Project, I have managed to get myself hooked up with a great new job. Said job has be unreasonably, almost embarassingly excited by its awesomeness. I have a couple of dear friends to thank for hooking me up with the opportunity, going out of their way to prod and encourage and recommend the opportunity along, and really in every possible way gone above and beyond the call of duty. I would love to thank them explicitly here for all to see. I would love to talk about all the prep I am doing for this job, for the specific duties the job entails, and to eventually regale you all with Tales from the Job.

However, I think I have to make the conscious decision here, right now, not to talk about my job on the internet, because I like my job and really don't want to get fired for, say, talking about my job on the internet (see: Dooce). Talking about print and cheese shop jobs was one thing; talking about my job at Pages was also something different, as I could use this blog to advertise for events. This job is something else all together, more of a Job than anything I've probably had before, so it seems as though I'll have to stick to generalizations.

However: thus far, everything is awesome. Everything that was still up in the air has been settled, and I canot express how trhilled I am with what they're offering me. While I will have to be obtuse, I can at least say that things are unfolding as they should, and I am positively beaming in nerdy glee over it all. I've never been so happy to have something to prove.


Natalie Zed updated @ 1:03 p.m.!! 0 comments

Monday, August 25, 2008

That Girl

One of the things I am really looking forward to, after I leave my parents' place and am able to live my life as an adult again, is drinking. Barring the very occasional glass of wine with dinner and a pair of G&Ts at the Scream Gala, I have had no alcohol since I left Calgary. In fact, I don't think I drank at all in the last few weeks leading up to my departure form Calgary, either because I wanted to avoid an ugly alcohol-fueled argument or because I didn't want to say something in an inebriated state that I would regret (and I was watching what I said very, very carefully by the end). Yes, those are two different things.

Since I left, there has been no blazingly obvious reason to continue teetotaling. My parents are not exactly prohibitionists; my mother is Russian, for goodness' sake. However, my father no longer drinks at all (it would interact negatively with his medication), and my mom confines her indulgences to the very occasional cocktail after he has gone to bed. Essentially, this means that I would be drinking alone. Since I am enough of a basket case all on my own, and the one night I did have more than a single drink (the scream gala) I felt myself getting a bit weird and potentially weepy around the edges, I've avoided alcohol and with it any potential of becoming a crying drunk living with her parents. *I* would even be embarrassed to be around me at that point.

But I miss cooking dinner with a glass of white wine, then finishing the bottle with a friend over dinner. I miss spending very lazy Sundays watching football or tv-on-dvd and combining various other liquids with gin. Most of all, I miss bourbon and coke with lime, my most favourite drink on earth, whether ordered or mixed myself (or by another kind soul when my sense of ratio got a bit garbled). I miss it, I think, because drinking has always been a very social activity for me, and an extremely pleasant one at that. Ed and I spent a lot of hilarious evenings getting very drunk and yelling at the television. I had a lot of excellent conversations with brilliant friends in pubs.

So I suppose when I say I miss drinking, I am really saying that I am looking forward to having fun again -- and, more specifically, having adult fun again. I can't wait to do things like stay out late, order a few drinks, and swear in mixed company. I want to wake up with a terrible headache and mascara smeared on my pillow. I want to hear my voice drowned by bass and slurred inside my own head. I want to enjoy my adulthood, my valid ID, my wildness again.

I know that this reclamation, this joyous return of my former, modest state of depravity, means that I will occasionally be That Girl again. Perhaps on a birthday, or a book launch, or some other suitable excuse, I'll not stop when my warning light starts blinking around the 5-ounce mark. I'll want to keep going, keep dancing, keep swimming through the hazy brown and gold light. And so I will end up in the men's bathroom sticking my fingers down my throat, or leaning out a car door while the driver idles, foot on the brake, puking onto the curb. I will make up with a sore throat and scraped knees, feeling like crap.

And I will not regret a moment.


Natalie Zed updated @ 8:51 p.m.!! 0 comments

Sunday, August 24, 2008


1. I did not think I would cry this much. I expected that this would be a very emotionally turbulent time for me, of course, but I did not expect that any human being could cry this much. It's really kind of embarrassing. I have to actively hide now to keep people from assuming I am actually a walking waterbed that has sprung a leak. There has not been a movie (of any genre) that hasn't made me cry, including Wall-E and Batman. There has not been a single night that I have not cried as I was falling asleep. Usually, now, it's just a tear or two, not a full-fledged torrent. I can't actually remember what life was like before I cried all the time.

2. I very rarely want to talk to anyone about anything. Seeing people, even (especially?) old family friends who I dearly miss and under any other circumstances would be dying to see, is incredibly difficult. In some cases, I've blurted out the events of the past few weeks just to get it over with. Sometimes, I've been ridiculous enough to actually pretend I've gone selectively deaf to avoid answering a question. I've variously entertained the ideas of never coming out of the house again, and wearing a t-shirt that says "separated," and handing everyone I see a sheet with a bullet-point summary of the past 10 weeks or so.

3. People really want to pick a side. Someone, clearly, must have done something terribly wrong. It really seems unfathomable that there could not be a villain.

4. I am far more comfortable being the villain, if a side must be picked. I dearly wish I could just call Ed an asshole along with the people who have proclaimed him so mere seconds after learning about our separation and long before they ask what actually happened. It would make my life a lot easier, and would mean that I didn't have to deal with point 5 nearly as much. Instead, I find myself talking about what a marvelous human being he was, what a good man, and assure them it just didn't work out (also I am very difficult). If they press (and they often do!) then I mention that well, he did have the regrettably stuffy habit of chastising me when I dined on kittens, and that really would never do.

5. Many people are much more comfortable with me being the villain than our separation being relatively quiet and amicable. I have been asked, to my face, and usually in that falsely comforting "you can tell *me* the truth now" tone, if we are separating because I had someone else on no less than five separate occasions. I've also had people, to my face and with not even a hint of apology, immediately ascribe the separation to my career, ambition, activity level, or all of the above -- and not in a "could this have been a contributing factor?" kind of way, but in a "if you'd have stayed home and been a better wife this wouldn't be happening" kind of way. On one memorable occasion, I was told simply "Well, I am not surprised -- I imagine you're very difficult to live with."

6. I realize that I really had no idea who and how would be by my side during this time. In many cases, I was not surprised. My family has been tirelessly supportive. My best friends, my girls, my Toronto coven, have stood by me. Another of my best friends has kept phone dates with me despite being in the midst of buying a house and planning a wedding. The literary communities in TO and Calgary, as well as further afield, have been awesome. I was, perhaps, simply amazed by how much love, how much support they offered, and how unconditionally. However, there were some, friends, acquaintances, and family alike, who surprised me with their support. People I was afraid to tell about the separation shocked me with their sound advice and unquestioning acceptance. People I certainly knew and whom I though liked me well enough surprised me )often to tears) with their love. There are a few, as well, who I expected would be here with me, who I expected would always be here with me, who are conspicuously absent. I miss them.

7. I miss absolutely everything. I miss the mountains. I miss the air. I miss the sunlight on the carpet in the late morning. I miss walking to Nellie's to write for a couple of hours. I miss walking up 8th. I miss meeting friends for breakfast at Dairy Lane or Take 10. I miss the farmer's market. I miss my bedspread. I miss riding the C-Train to the University. I miss the sabbath. I miss the babies. I miss my job. I miss everyone and everything with an intensity that shocks me.

8. I am beginning to realize that if I stayed in Calgary I would have done myself serious harm. I certainly had a place to go and a way to support myself, and it is not as though I was without a support system. But I am not sure I could have made it through the winter without something very bad happening. I feel like I narrowly escaped something.

9. There are some things I am just never going to learn. I am that goldfish that just keeps slamming its face against the side of the tank, despite the fact the glass was there yesterday and it will be there tomorrow. There is something in me, even when I know something is a horrible idea and going to end badly, that sometimes just cannot resist.

10. There is a part of me that wishes things could be different, even if I were lessened by it. This part wishes I could have been quieter, softer, easier. It wishes I chose differently or not at all. It wishes I could have felt less and handled more, even if this meant I was blunted or dulled. There is a part of me that wishes I were still there, because it would be easier and this is very, very hard.

11. I had no idea this was going to be so hard. I knew it was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done, and I am neither interested in an easy life nor likely to shy from a challenge. This is still harder than anything I could have imagined. This is the kind of difficulty that makes taking a shower an unbearable prospect, that feels far less heroic than grossly masochistic or just plain stupid. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me, that I can't just admit defeat and go home.

12. From somewhere impossible (and maybe rather ridiculous) I've managed to find an unshakable little spark of optimism. I get genuinely excited whenever I contemplate moving in to my new place, starting my new job, even simply unpacking. I will be reading as part of a new series, Decadent Rare, in TO on September 17th, and I am as giddy as if it is the first time I've been on stage. Somehow, when I think of my impending move, instead of every organ shuddering and clenching like a sane person, I am looking forward to starting over, beginning again. Whenever I forget for a moment or two exactly how miserable I am, an odd film of cheerfulness clouds my vision and I can't help but look at the great unknown ahead of me as some kind of ridiculous adventure. That feeling, that little bit of tenacious joy, keeps me going.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 9:31 p.m.!! 0 comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Weeks

While there has been an unofficial countdown going on for a little while now, as of today I have begun formally counting the sleeps until me, my cats, and a big old rented cargo van pull up to our new apartment in Toronto. Gennie C, LTP and Merlin will already be there, unpacking and celebrating and shedding. I will unload all my worldly possessions, wave my parents goodbye, crack open a bottle of wine and make my new roommates promise me that if I ever again speak of staying with my parents for more than 48 hours, they will shoot a blow-dart soaked in tranquilizer into my neck and duct-tape me to the wall until I regain my senses.

Do not mistake me: I am deeply grateful to my parents for taking in their tangerine-haired wastrel of a daughter. They have fed me, clothed me, and bought me necessities for seven weeks now. They helped me get my boxes home when I ran out of money to ship them. Hell, my mom flew to Calgary to help me *pack* those boxes (she also made me the best soup I have ever tasted). I would never, not for an instant, want to imply that I am anything less than speechless with appreciation at how awesome they have been.

But there's always a however. And when one's wastrel daughter is a twenty-five-year-old poet and professional shit-disturber, and when one's parents are the very traditional European sort prone to fits of antiquing and early rising, and when one's father in particular is blessed with a streak of quaint sexism with a healthy side of racism...yeah. Seven weeks can be a long time.

I have not forgotten all of the survival techniques that I learned as a young woman. I listen to my ipod when trapped in the car and flatly refuse to watch any programming on the Fox network. I try to keep from pointing out the underlying messages of violence in the commercials. I bite the insides of my cheeks and dug my nails into my palms.

I am ready now. I am ready to rebuild my fortress, retreat into a universe of my own making where I will not be reprimanded for refusing to wear a skirt and makeup every day or called a "fallen woman" without irony. I am looking forward to being able to discuss anything faintly resembling politics without being told to adjust my tinfoil hat. I am looking forward to life with my friends in my city.

and counting.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 9:07 p.m.!! 0 comments

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What kind, exactly?

Interior: Day. Public Bathroom.

Adorable Little Girl: look mom, that lady has pink hair!

Extremely Overweight and Grouchy Woman Wearing Very Very Tight Pink Stretchpants: Well, she must be some kinda weirdo.


Natalie Zed updated @ 7:59 p.m.!! 2 comments

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On Anger

I've rarely felt this way. My usual explosions or fits of temper are really me writhing in pain, or lashing out like an injured cat who can't think beyond being hurt and protecting itself form further hurt with all its strength and pointy bits. Rarely do I get genuinely angry.

This morning, however, I happened to have that rare experience. The inside of my chest is filled with a hot, slow, wet feeling, like magma welling to the surface. My mouth is full of sparks. My hands shake. I feel like I must be radiating, shining out an ugly kind of light. Radiant.

The surprising thing is that I am grateful for the experience. It was incredibly illuminating. I can see clearly now the character of those around me. I see more of what has happened in my wake, and a little bit more of what lies ahead. I have seen my way through a couple of conversations that needed to take place, that were very murky only a day ago. I can see through more that I could before.

Above all, however, I am grateful for the challenge. Anyone who knows me, really knows me, knows what happens to me when someone tells me a thing cannot be done, that I am incapable of it.

So. Thank you for saying what you did. Do not apologize. I am glad, deeply glad that I saw it. Don't worry, you have said nothing that has not been said before and worse, and to my face. I have certainly been accused of being crazy before, and I have always looked carefully at those levelling the accusation and taken it with a grain of salt. No harm done.

I must tell you, though: you are mistaken. I do not "fold." I do not give in. I couldn't care less what you think, really, but you told me I could not. You've levelled a challenge.

Thank you.

Watch me. Just watch.

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Natalie Zed updated @ 5:33 p.m.!! 0 comments