A new year, a new opportunity for procrastination

January 6, 2009 at 1:19 am (ch-ch-ch-changes, Cooking, My house is nuclear)

I made a lot of resolutions as a drunkenly slurred my way into 2008. So I was curious about which ones actually worked out.

-Write more letters: That’s a big fail. The only letters I mailed were the kind that have my hard-earned, cold hard cash in them, sent to various evil bill collectors.

-Write more stories: Another fail. My Christmas present to Jacob was a short story, but in typical me fashion it wasn’t ready yet. So I am writing it in serial form, which he seems to enjoy.

-Eat in more:  I…er…uh…*guiltily stashes hundreds of La Bonita receipts into her bra*

-Hang up paintings: DONE. That’s Nathalie 1, 2008 zero.

-Hang up laundry: I nearly impaled my foot this morning on rhinestones from my holiday party dress that is still on the floor so….no.

This year I have one resolution: to pay off any and all credit card debt.  As much as I would love to think that THIS is the year that I will start running everyday, stop eating all the baked good I can get my sticky fingers on and solve this whole economic crisis thingy, I am a realist. And a procrastinator.

What are your resolutions?


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A semi-Jewish girl at Christmastime

December 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm (Uncategorized)

December is a good time for me. First, there’s Back Fence PDX tomorrow night. And all of you should buy tickets because its going to be George-Clooney-in-his-underpants-amazing.

The second reason why December is  great: my BIRTHDAY. Its the day after Christmas, which was rather difficult for me growing up as an only child, because I couldn’t understand why all of MY friends had to be with their families on MY birthday and that they couldn’t come to MY party. This is  MY day,  I would think to myself while sharing my birthday cake with my stuffed animals and weeping. Well, to make up for those lonely birthdays, I have decided that this December will be my birthday MONTH. Which brings me back to my first point, Back Fence PDX. You all have to come to it, if only to wish me a happy birthday month or else I might regress into dismal memories of childhood birthdays spent alone you will find me clutching a stuffed rabbit in an alley somewhere, eating cake and weeping. Do you really want that? Have you seen how big and glossy my eyes get when I’m weeping? Buy tickets now.

Thirdly, December is great because Hanukkah is (usually) in December. And I’m kinda-sorta-almost Jewish. True, my mother is technically a Catholic, and my father, while born into a Jewish family, is a self-proclaimed Atheist. But I had a Bubby growing up who pinched my cheeks. When people come to my house, I force food upon them until they beg for mercy. I have a roman nose and a deep affection for Woody Allen movies, lox, matzo and eggs, leopard print and Oi-ing. And Hanukkah is just a great holiday: candles, booze, gambling and the mother of all foods, latkes, potato pancakes deep fried in chicken fat and then drenched in sour cream and apple sauce. FOR EIGHT NIGHTS. Oh, and there’s a bunch of history and praying in Hebrew and stuff too.

And for Christmas, I get to go out in my lumberjack pants and cut down a REAL tree this year. Did you know you can get a tree for $10 if you cut it yourself? In Las Vegas, the trees were sold out of mall parking lots, cost $60 and looked like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, though not nearly as charming.

So, in a word, excited. Buy tickets. Now.

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November 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm (Uncategorized)

My Bubby died on Saturday. She was 83 and we knew it was coming, but it still hurts.

Oh, and for the gentiles reading this blog, Bubby is the Yiddish word for grandma. If I called her grandma, she would use a not-very-grandma-like explicative.

For someone so closely related to me, I don’t know a lot about Bubby. I wish I could have known more. I know she was born into the Great Depression, that her parents were rabbis who immigrated from Israel to the United States at the turn of the century. I know she met my Grandpa, a cop, when she was living in Chicago. I know their first born son was named Eugene, and that Eugene would later meet Debbie, and Debbie would give birth to me. Bubby also gave birth to another son, Steven, and two daughters, Laura and Ellen, my aunts and my uncle.

There was some mystery surrounding my father’s birth; my grandpa didn’t believe that my dad was his. As a result, my grandpa beat the ever-living tar out of my dad (and sometimes my Bubby) for most of his childhood and adolescence. And my dad really doesn’t resemble the rest of the family. My dad’s family is loud, dramatic, flamboyant. At the end of my Bubby’s memorial service, for example, my Aunt Ellen threw herself over the coffin and wept. They kiss you with wet, loud, smacking kisses and pinch your cheeks and want to know who your people are. They ask inappropriate questions about your sex life after you haven’t seen them in five years. They want to know how big your boobies have grown. Things like that.

My dad is quiet and sensitive. He didn’t need to have rhinoplasty to rid himself of a Roman nose, like so many of my relatives did to fit in. He doesn’t look like his brothers and sisters. He doesn’t pinch cheeks and he doesn’t raise his voice, unless he’s very angry.

The memorial service was in Phoenix, Ariz., with its sprawling freeways and Saguaro cacti that reach out of the parched earth like ancient hands. There was a coffin strategically placed at the front of the funeral home service room. It was so small, smaller than I remembered my Bubby being, but she had been sick when she passed. I kept wanting to ask the funeral director if she was in there, but at the same time, I didn’t really want to know.

Everyone told stories. Great stories. Back Fence PDX-worthy stories. It was strange to watch people I had never met talk about her life. Like the 45-year old woman who lived in the same condominium complex as my Bubby for fifteen years, and considered my 83-year-old grandma to be her best friend. The consensus was that my Bubby had a filthy mouth and an insatiable sex drive. That she was generous, especially when it came to feeding others. If you walked into my Bubby’s house, first she’d have a spread of bagels with lox, deli meats and cream cheese. After you finished that, she would offer to make you a cheese and tomato sandwich, all the time chiding, “You’re so thin. You’re so thin. Let me feed you.” I do that too.

And she was always doling out complements; even the most homely grandchild was a European supermodel in my Bubby’s eyes. She was a gambler, and when she would visit my family in Las Vegas, she would pout until someone dropped her off at the casino. She ate bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning. She smoked like a chimney until she was well into her sixties and she drank like a fish. Johnny Walker Red Label or vodka with club soda, never tonic.

She had a full head of platinum blond curls and wore her nails long and pink. A clothes horse, she once made me sneak into a women’s dressing room to try and apprehend the last, small, black pant suit from a woman who was trying it on.

“There’s no way that will fit her,” my Bubby said.

Anyway, she was a special lady and I’ll miss her a lot. I only hope I look as good as she did when I turn 83.

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Election day

November 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm (Uncategorized)

It was 2004: my second year of college, my first absentee ballot, the first blissful months of my relationship with Jacob.

We were sitting at his second-hand wooden kitchen table, eating green curry with chicken off of plastic wear while his old radio rattled off the vote counts, state-by-state. We started out laughing. We made a couple of cocktails and listened, knowing that this time we would win. How could anyone make such a bad decision twice? The male disc jockey had a low, official sounding voice that vibrated the table we sat at as he droned on into the evening.

We sobered up. The dishes were washed. The votes were still being counted but we began realize that we might lose this thing. Again. Another four years of the same old bullshit. At 9 p.m. we were still hopeful. At 10 p.m., neither of us spoke to the other, we sat, rapt with attention, waiting for a miracle, a recount, something. At 11 p.m., Jacob turned the radio off. We went to bed; there was nothing more to hear.

I’m about to go drop my ballot off and I’m feeling that same hope that I felt that night in that kitchen in Corvallis, OR. Here’s to a more successful election night and I hope that you voted, for all of our sakes.

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October 31, 2008 at 10:25 pm (cats, Geeking out, Scary movies)

Tonight’s Halloween and I will be hitting the streets in a  Jane Jetson costumes I made. I’m really excited because I haven’t dressed up in two years because of general college-age related laziness.

I was thinking about all the costumes I’ve worn over the years, and I thought I’d list them here.

Age 3: The toothfairy. I think this was the first time I dressed up. I was really into the idea of someone putting money under my pillow.

Age 4: Shere Khan from the Jungle Book, the big bad tiger. He was my favorite character because he made such a good villain. Also, I was a weird little kid.

Age 5: A black cat. My mom went as a gray mouse. We were pretty adorable.

Age 6: The Little Mermaid, complete with real sea-shell bra. Okay perverts, I was wearing a nude colored body suit too. I couldn’t walk very well in this one. I specifically remember eating it in front of some big scary middle schoolers.

Age 7-8: Belle from Beauty and the Beast. My yellow ballgown OWNED. I can still recite that movie word for word. I was Belle two years in a row because the next Disney move to come out, Aladdin, featured Jasmine and I thought her outfit looked freezing.

Age 9: Vampiress. The fake blood capsules I buy from the Halloween store not only taste like shit, but stain my teeth for several days afterwards.

Age 10: Witch.

Age 11: No idea. I think this might have been the year we went camping. I was pissed.

Age 12: Old school movie star. I wore one of my grandma’s vintage dresses. This was the first year I got turned away from a house for looking too old. We went back later and TPd the house.

Age 13: Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. This costume doubled as a book report project on the Odyssey. I got an A.

Age 14: Heather Graham in The Spy Who Shagged Me. Blond wig, pink tube top, blue eyeshadow. Bad, very bad.

Age 15: Renaissance knave. Spent two hours trying to achieve that medieval cleavage, to no avail.

Age 16: Fairy. At this point a “costume” meant fairy wings and a tube top. I was a very classy teenager.

Age 17: Something my mother wouldn’t have approved of, probably involving a tube top.

Age 18: Twiggy. My first college Halloween. My date, Tinkerbell gets totally sauced on vodka cokes and we go home at 9 p.m. Tink, you know who you are!

Age 19: Holly Golightly. Went to a party in Seattle where every drunk person on the street saw me, pointed and said “You’re that one chick! From that movie!.” I have a very real Holly G moment when I ride the ferry back in my evening dress and tiara.

Age 20: Possessed baby doll. Yellow dress with a string and ring on the back to appear like a talking doll. I end up looking really creepy (and drunk) in my pictures due to too much wine.

What was your favorite costume?

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This is why I don’t garden

October 24, 2008 at 6:48 pm (environmental blah blah, Movies, Scary movies)

Hey! Remember that one time when I started this blog and I said to myself, “Self, we are going to write  witty, intelligent things about horror movies and books because we love them and we are going to do it every day because thats what writers do,” and then, you know, I didn’t. But, today I will because I recently saw maybe the grossest movie I’ve ever seen. Its about plants. Evil ones.

The Ruins stars Jena Malone, the chick from Donnie Darko who my boyfriend has a major crush on and I don’t understand why because I AM THE ONLY GIRL HE FINDS ATTRACTIVE, so as soon as this thing started I kept shouting “That bitch from Donnie Darko is gonna die!” Not that I’m jealous or anything. Anywho, Jena and some other attractive twenty-somethings are in Mexico getting their drink on when they meet this German guy who invites them to check out some secret ruins. So the kids down some more Cabo Wabo tequila and head out to get some “culture.” And they go to the ruins, and things are totally bitchin until these natives come out of the jungle and start pointing guns at them. Of course, no one speaks the language, and after one of their buds get SHOT IN THE CHEST, the kids retreat onto the ruins, to regroup and plan how the hell they will get out of there.

Now it gets weird. There’s a whole lot of this one kind of vine on these ruins. And like any good survivor, everyone starts touching the vines. Which proceed to give everyone a wicked, painful rash. They also hear the dead guys cell phone ringing from within the ruins, so they decide to go and investigate. After one person paralyzes himself falling down the shaft, another girl and then another is sent down to investigate and get the phone.

But its not the phone ringing. Its the plant. Its mimicing the ring of a phone to lure them down there, into the dark. And when she reaches out to touch it, the vine grabs her hand. It dawns on the group that the villagers didn’t want to take them hostage, they were quarantining them because they had touched the plant.

I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but I didn’t open my eyes during the second half of this thing because it was so gross. And it really makes me think twice when I walk past creeping vines on my way to work in the morning. When the fog is right, and the wind is chilled, I can almost hear them rustling, waiting.

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The Fairest of the Seasons

October 14, 2008 at 10:25 pm (ch-ch-ch-changes, Cooking, Fall)

I love fall. Even though I grew up in Las Vegas, where fall is less like a season and more like “that day I wasn’t sweating between summer and winter.”

But Oregon has seasons. And it does fall like no other. The leaves are changing, so looking at every tree on my block is like seeing them born anew. The air is crispy and you have to wear a scarf and stockings. There are so many gourds and pumpkins it looks like the city has a bad case of warts. Jack-o-lanterns smirk from darkened windows and the smell of fireplaces being lit for the first time since February fills the air. I made two sweet potato pies this weekend, and last night, a pot of butternut squash soup.

The seasons are changing, and I hope I am too. I’ve been more down the past few months than I have in a long time. I feel like I don’t know who I am, or what I want, or what I want to do. I’ve realized that love, for me anyway, isn’t a dichotomy. That childhood friendships dissipate and you have to foster new ones. That my parents are not invincible. That I can’t beat myself up for every little mistake. That my mood affects those around me. That being alone isn’t always the best solution; I have to let other people into my space, even if its messy and smells like dirty laundry.

Tonight, I’m making pumpkin soup. We’re going to eat it and snuggle under wool blankets because its too early (and too expensive) to turn on the heater. I’m going to read ghost stories and get goosepimples up and down my body. I’m going to buy Halloween candy and make a costume. I’m going to listen to Nico and Bob Dylan. Because its fall, and the change it brings is beautiful.

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I feel five years old

September 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm (anxiety, cats, unhealthy obessions)

Yesterday I was walking home when I saw a cat lying in the road. I told him to get out, that he was going to be ran over. But he didn’t budge. When I walked closer to him, he looked sick, worse than sick, he was dying. I’m not very level-headed in situations like this so I scooped him up and put him in the shade on the sidewalk. He could barely stand for two seconds before collapsing into a furry heap, his small eyes half closed. He was brown and stripey, small like a kitten, but obviously older. I could feel his bones through his sagging skin.

Walking up the stoop to the nearest house, I hoped that he belonged to somebody, that someone could help him. A woman answered the door.

“Do you have a cat?”

“Yes,” she said, looking panicked. We walked down to the sidewalk together. He didn’t belong to her. Her cat was black and big. Her young daughter came outside.

“Honey, thats a kitty,” she said. “He’s very sick.”

She said she’d check on him and if he still hadn’t moved, she’d call animal control. She went back inside the house

I walked back to my house. I was there two minutes before I asked Jacob to come with me to bring the cat some food and water. Perhaps he was just dehydrated and hungry.

We returned to the cat. He had crawled several inches from where I’d left him. I set the food and water down and he looked up quickly and stumbled towards them, but he didn’t drink or eat, he slumped down again. I moistened the food with some water and fed it to him by hand. When he ate, his jaw made an awful grinding noise like he was a broken mechanical toy.

“Don’t feed him like that,” said Jacob. “He could be sick. You could pass it on to our cats at home.”

But he was eating. I kept feeding him moistened bits of cat food, getting my hopes up that he could be saved. He drank a bit of water and then started to dry heave. He stumbled, his small legs crossing one over the other drunkenly. He fell down again and rolled onto his side, his breathing shallow. His small golden eyes were only half open.

“What do we do?” I said.

“I don’t know,” Jacob replied. “We can’t afford a hospital.”

“Its too late for a hospital,” I said shaking my head, hating myself for the tears running down my nose and crashing onto the pavement. “What do you do with a dying cat?”

I asked for his phone so I could could call my mom. She answered and I sobbed into the receiver.

“He’s sick and dying and I don’t know what to do.”

“Who dying?” my mom asked, panicking.

“A cat.”

“Your cat?”

“A cat I found on the street.”

I heard my mother sigh. “Nathalie,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do. Cats die. Cats go outside to die too. Call animal control. Don’t touch it. It might have diseases.”

It felt like a conversation I should have had when I was five.  I had pets that died, but peacefully in bed, or under deep sedation in a clean, white vet’s office. Never like this, out in the open, on hot pavement. It felt unnatural, and terrible.

I said I’d call her later and hung up the phone. I stroked his furry body and tried to feed him. But he wouldn’t eat. It dawned on me that even if I sat here all night monitoring him, it wouldn’t make a difference. This cat was going to die, and I couldn’t change that. I felt horrible.

After a while, I let Jacob walk me back up the street. The cat stayed there. We went to a friends house and watched a movie.

On the way home, I hoped Jacob would go a different way, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look for him. But we drove by the house where I’d left him to die. It was dark. All I could see were shadows.

“I didn’t see him there,” Jacob said. “Maybe he got better.”

He rubbed my knee and smiled. I smiled back, but I was old enough to know better now.

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You answer my questions, now

September 9, 2008 at 9:30 pm (anxiety, cats, Political-ish)

There have been a lot of things happening lately that confuse me and Google is not giving me the answers I want. So, dear readers (all five of you), please answer the following:

1. Even though it is quite obvious that Sarah Palin is about as prepared to take second seat in the White House as I am prepared to perform nuclear fission, why are McCains’ approval ratings going up? Is Sarah Palin made of chocolate and faeries? Or is the majority of this country as stupid as I fear?

2. A reporter recently quit from my paper and her job is about to be up for grabs. My co-workers are telling me to apply for this position but I am conflicted. Should I take a reporter job for about the same pay as I’m making now, longer hours and a guarantee that I will probably cry everyday to expand my resume, or should I stay where I am, a lowly newsroom assistant, with less stress and crying but more boredom?

3.I just got a new apartment with wood floors, which are fantastic. However, every time I walk down the hallway I see a tumbleweed of cat hair go rolling across my path. Is there a solution to this problem that doesn’t involve me shaving my cats (although I am willing to do that if it comes down to it)?

Thank you for your time and quick attention to this matter. I’ll be waiting. Patiently.

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The ‘greening’ of sexism

August 27, 2008 at 7:27 pm (environmental blah blah, sexism ain't sexy)

I am enraged this morning and its not because the Fred Meyer pharmacy doesn’t open until 9 a.m. and I needed my mood-altering medication before my job starts at 8:30 a.m. (although that may have something to do with the rage).

It is because I saw this on the Mercury’s blog this morning. Apparently last year cosmetic company LUSH held a ‘protest’ in which employees at its stores spent the day in the nude besides an apron to promote the company’s use of ‘naked’ or package free, 100 percent vegetarian products. The company’s head honchos say this is a way to ‘educate’ businesses and consumers of the toll that excess packaging takes on the environment. LUSH on Northwest 23rd will reprise the protest today at noon.

*head explodes*

Question: Why do these so-called ethical companies feel it’s OK to exploit women’s bodies but its not OK to exploit farm animals or trees?

And some of you may say that the men at the stores will be naked too (equality?), but when was the last time you saw a dude working a LUSH? This company is not trying to inform people people about using less packaging, they are using female nudity to draw customers into its stores to buy $15 bath bombs. If they really wanted to raise environmental consciousness, they could do it without the naked babes by holding a seminar in their stores.

Reading this gave me the sick feeling in my stomach, like when I see those giant PETA billboards with the naked women panting in cages.

I know the employees only do this on a voluntary basis and I know many young women working in these stores will decide to de-panty and throw on an apron and it won’t affect their life one way or the other. But to me, this is blatant objectification. And using this tactic in the workplace, a place where it is already difficult for women to navigate without being judged solely on their ‘assets’, is more ethically irresponsible than slapping plastic wrap on vegetables at a grocery store. LUSH has placed a green film over sexism and calls it consciousness raising. This is unacceptable and I encourage you if you agree to write to them and tell them so, as I will be doing today.

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
8365 Ontario Street – Unit 120
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V5X 3E8

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