Friday, April 27, 2007

Possibly The Most Important Video You Will Watch In Your Life

Thanks to Erin and Doug, I was able to view this video and learn so much about myself. Please: take a moment, take a breath, and watch it the whole way through. You will never be the same.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Walk with Da Nator: Green-Wood Cemetery

Not to be out-done by Someone's back yard photos or so-and-so's continually classy Brooklyn pics, I present you with a photo and video tour from my home to Green-Wood Cemetery. The photos are in their own Flickr set, and each one has a caption describing it. The accompanying videos are below.

If you like this, I may do more. Enjoy!

Raining petals

From the Altar of Liberty

Magnolias before the Verrazano-Narrows

For other tours of the area, check out the Forgotten NY 5th Ave and Green-Wood tour pages, the sexy jesus tour of Green-Wood and the Green-Wood official site.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Viral Video

Normally this isn't my type of humour, but this is so well executed it got me laughing. The look the fake Blaine keeps giving the camera is priceless.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Lovely Day

It got up to 77 gorgeous, sunny, dry degrees here today. I slept in late, then traveled with Mrs. Nator to Bubby's Brooklyn, a popular restaurant with great fresh food and a waterfront view of the East River. After a terrific brunch, we noodled along the waterfront parks under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, and stopped to sit in the sun by the river and watch kids play ball, boats going by, traffic humming over the bridges and ducks, gulls and cormorants diving for fish. The sun brought out the warm red in the brick of the old tobacco warehouse. It was nothing less than stunning.

(These photos are actually from a wedding we went to there in October, but you get the idea. Clickie pickie makey biggie.)

After that, we strolled along the waterfront past the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory housed in a 1920s fireboat house (alas, we were too full of pancakes to indulge further) and the Bargemusic barge. Then we noodled up past the old and current Watchtower buildings (yikes!) and stopped to watch the canines frolic in the Hillside Dog Park. We hadn't been there more than a few minutes before the owner of one cute Boston Terrier walked up to us; it was one of my old college roommates, who I'd emailed with recently but not seen for years!

We ended up having a great conversation with her. A bit over a year ago she, too, was happily laid off from her soul-killing corporate job. She was able to live off a publishing advance for a while (BTW, check our her book - she's funny!), and now is freelancing, as is her boyfriend. Hearing her recent history made me feel a lot better about the emotional ups and downs I've had, understand that it's okay to take advantage of this time and possibly even unemployment for a while to detox from corporate America (she rightly pointed out that I've been paying for the benefits all my working life), and that you can make a living doing things that interest you in a less structured way. I left excited to get together with her again, soon, and feeling like I have a better idea of how I want to utilize my next few weeks of time off. I think I'm going to start a real push to get my freelance businesses working first, and if that works out, I can try doing vet tech training part time or as a volunteer basis, without screwing up my unemployment. That's the plan right now, anyway.

Oh, and I want to go out and take more photos! Now that the weather is nice, it's time to enjoy doing that again. Plus, walking is good exercise.

After that, we wandered along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade enjoying the views, and imagined living in some of the wonderful old homes in the Heights, making our way towards Borough Hall and the Fulton Mall. It was here that perhaps the greatest miracle occurred: I was able to find a pair of jeans that fit me at a reasonable price in under half an hour! Truly the gods smiled on us this day.

After swinging by the drug store for some minor purchases, we hoofed it over to Atlantic Ave to catch the infamous B63 bus, which actually came pretty quickly. The ride over to Flatbush and up Fifth Ave was long, but it was fine for watching the happy, pale people emerged into the sun, lingering at outdoor cafés, window shopping and strolling beneath the pear trees in bloom.

And now it's time to settle down for the evening with a plateful of Mrs. Nator's homemade quesadillas and a smoothie. I actually feel more than human, again - I feel great!

Here's hoping all of you have lovely days coming your way...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Worthy Causes

1. I don't really think any explanation is necessary for this one. Just click on the banner.

2. On a slightly less world-shaking but still important level, the Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, DC has voted to more than tripledthe royalty rates for webcasters. Without Congressional action the majority of webcasters will go bankrupt and silent on this date. Alternative web radio programming of many kinds will end as we know it, meaning mainly standard commercial stations will take over webcasting, just as they have the radio waves. Even webcasts for well-respected and vital organizations like NPR will mostly likely be severly cut back. Think about what you would miss, and click below to see what you can do.

Here ends my broadcast of the Emergency Soapbox System. Had this been a real Soapbox, I'd be jabbering on for at least five more paragraphs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's That, Lassie? Timmy Fell Down A Well?

Many thanks who responded with encouraging words to my last post. While I'm still mulling over what to do, the interest in trying AC again is still there, if the belief is not firm. The main reasons I wouldn't try it now involve 1.) my interest in doing vet tech work, as many veterinarians think AC is bullshit and sometimes gets in the way of veterinary practice, and 2.) my own emotional foo-faw-rah. That said, I am contemplating contacting a few old friends and asking if they'd be willing to let me practice for free on their critters, to see if I can, indeed, get back on that bike again.

To those of you Natorettes who mentioned you are interested in AC, I offer you my services on a free trial/practice basis, if you like. I have done email readings with people from other countries, and telephone consultations were actually my bread and butter while I was doing it professionally. Telephone, actually, is my favourite way to do it. You get the full attention of the person, along with being able to get a feel for their voice, but there aren't distractions of children running around, the animal being wary of a visitor, etc. Email can be a bit too removed for my liking, but has yielded some very impressive results, and some people just love to have me there face to face. Pick your poison and drop me a comment or email me, if you're so interested, and I promise to try my best (and not whinge at you, at least not much).


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

O Ye of Little Faith

[Warning: this is a long and rather self-indulgent one. You may prefer to go read something funny instead.]

I wish I knew everything was going to be alright. I mean, of course it is; I no longer honestly think I’m going to end up homeless, broke and alone, as once was my constant fear. I guess six and a half years in a stable relationship with a fantastic woman has dulled that. I do have faith in her, and at least in my desire to make her happy or not disappoint her. Hence my ability to quit smoking cold turkey after years of addiction, not long after she began her campaign to get me to do so. I didn’t necessarily have faith in my own will to remain healthy and living, nor did I cease to enjoy smoking, except in that that enjoyment began to be outweighed by her concern for and disappointment in me (not to mention the increasing financial stress it induced). But I did have faith in her sound judgment and in her being the partner I wanted, so I was able to quit. In that sense, it was as if she was, in terms of my quitting smoking, my “higher power” that the AA people insist on.

Faith is a funny thing. Chaucer's Bitch is conducting a running commentary and discussion of it on her blog at the mo, and it’s got me thinking. If, for example, you look at the idea of faith in a higher power as utilized by 12-step programs like AA, it is used as a tool to help people in emotional and physical crisis get through it. This is why, I’m convinced, AA insists on members naming a higher power, whether it be The Lord God Jehovah or the clanking radiator across the room. The power comes not so much from what you believe in, as your belief in something. It is that belief that promotes hope, and it is hope that gives one something to hold onto when trying to make a difficult change, or even just to survive in the face of everyday challenges, sometimes. So, whereas CB is currently addressing the hypothesis that faith is “choosing to believe something is absolutely true while you acknowledge that you don't actually have any means of knowing if it's true or not ,“ I would wager that this is not the whole story.

I say this because 1.) faith is not necessarily negated by evidence, nor reinforced by it, and 2.) faith promotes itself, sometimes by creating it’s own evidence. Let’s take the example she’s been addressing of learning to ride a bike despite falling off of it. In this instance, you have two observable bits of evidence. The first is that you are repeatedly falling off the bike and hurting yourself, which would indicate that you cannot ride a bike. The second is that for quite some time now, people have been learning how to ride bikes despite falling repeatedly. Although it may seem more scientific to conclude from statistical evidence that it is likely that you will learn how to ride the bike, you cannot be 100% sure of it. In addition, you have to take into your equation of the pursuit of bike riding both quantity and quality. That is, you know you probably can learn to ride, statistically speaking, but at what point is it qualitatively worth it to you? Is it as much worth it if, say, you find you have an inner-ear imbalance, and you break your arm twice trying to learn, as it is if you are easily able to learn in one day with just one minor fall?

Here is where faith comes in. You can’t know which of these scenarios will occur, even if you can make an educated guess based on the evidence of precedent, both regarding other peoples’ riding experiences and your own previous athletic abilities. So, you have to have faith to pick yourself up after that first fall – or even just to start. Some might say that trying anything like this task requires faith, and to not believe in yourself or have hope that things will turn out right indicates a lack of faith. One could probably counter that this “lack of faith” could also be interpreted as just another kind of faith – the faith that things will turn out badly, you are a failure or the world is out to get you. I think it more common for those who have faith in a particular to view others who have conflicting faiths as being faithless, however, so for the moment, we’ll refer to faith in terms of believing you can triumph through persistence and/or assistance, AKA learn to ride the bike.

So, in terms of faith not being negated by evidence, if you have fallen but you persevere in trying to ride, you are exhibiting faith. If, to elevate the drama, everyone in your family has an inner-ear imbalance, and you’ve been told that you’ll never ride a bike because of this, yet you still persist, you most definitely have faith – the kind they write about in sappy human-interest stories everywhere. Then, if you do learn to ride, you see that as evidence that your faith was correct. You might even put this forth as evidence that your faith is what caused you to be able to ride, and thus anyone can learn with the same faith. If you don’t learn to ride, you can use this as evidence that your faith was incorrect, but you can also blame something else – your own perceived lack of adequate faith, a lack of tools or, say, other peoples’ lack of faith in you. Finally, there are some who, after learning to ride, will only temporarily use this as evidence that their faith was correct, but revert to doubting in the face of other challenges.

So, you see, it has much less to do with evidence at all, as it has to do with human perception, emotion, evaluation and belief. This is why, as much as there are more people believing in the scientific evidence of evolution each day, there are also people converting to fundamentalist religions. While I might take carbon-dating analysis of fossils as hard evidence, some might just as easily take the moisture dripping from the eyes of a statue of the virgin Mary as hard evidence of their beliefs. Every one of us makes a thousand tiny choices every day as to what to believe. Scientific experimentation certainly does seem to be the soundest tool we have thus far of determining semi-universal truths of existence. However, not only is truth ever subjective, but science still has a long way to go towards explaining life, death and everything in the universe.

So, here’s where I personally hit a snag. Although my father is a long-time (very liberal) minister and my mother a recently ordained interfaith minister, I would have to say that I was mostly raised to put faith in science. I have a strong aversion, in fact, to most organized religion or spirituality, believing that it tends to consolidate beliefs and power, restrict human behaviour and critical thinking and subjugate and control people and other life. And yet, I long for faith. I wish, fiercely sometimes, that I could somehow know what path I should be on in my life, how I could do good, how I could be happy, feel worthy. I wish that I could qualm my fears of death, pain, abandonment and the unknown. And, as much as I know that I hold the power within me to change my thinking, to take positive action and to work to both improve my situation and my outlook, sometimes it feels like too much of just that: work. It overwhelms me, and I despair for not having some faith in an outside power that would aid and take care of me.

I had some faith, for a while. While practicing animal communication and dabbling in “alternative” spirituality – a sort of noncommittal, middle-class white girl synthesis of Buddhism, Taoism, and various pagan knickknackery – I actually began to feel that the world might be a good place, and I might have both a purpose and a sound, positive present and future. I imagine that it was very much like many Christians feel: sound in their niche, protected and/or guided in a way, reassured that there is some order and they have an important, loved place in it. However, being of scientific mind and pessimistic disposition, this was difficult for me to maintain. I don’t think there would have been any way to do it if it weren’t for the evidence.

How can there be evidence? Small things: a parakeet in India “tells” me that he loves and is excited by the feeling of water on his cere, and his owner tells me that he just had his first bath. A dog tells me his favourite food is “cheesy noodles” – not mac and cheese, and his person excitedly confirms that that’s a special dish she makes just when her son comes home, and that’s just what they call it. A cat who won’t eat for days tells me he wants “the special chicken” and his person reports that she had to go back to her old neighbourhood to a deli that served home-made grilled chicken and guess what? He eats.

And then there are the bigger things, that freak me out enough that I am uneasy that they came through me: An animal missing for days tells me he’s dying and didn’t want to trouble his people. I communicate that they want to be with him before he dies, and he shows up back home that night and dies in his person’s arms. A deceased cat tells me the exact words on her gravestone – words I never would have used. A dead skunk shows me an overhead view of her person’s entire lower floor – even rooms she’d never been in, in life. We zoom in and she describes an obsessive habit one other animal there has that I’ve never heard about, and her person, in amazement, confirms that it is true.

How could I make this all up? Am I just preternaturally good at “reading” people, gleaning facts and probabilities from throwaway comments and vocal tones? Why did it work in person, on the phone and over email? Why was it vague at times and crystal clear at others – a lack of belief from some owners, a difference in my mood or the animal’s personality, psychic or spiritual interference in the ether? Most of all, when and why did I start believing in it, despite all my natural skepticism and reluctance in the beginning, and when and why did I stop?

I’ve been thinking about these things this past week, as I’ve waited for some definitive response from the animal clinic and received none. The idea of working hands-on in medical care for animals excites me, and fills me with a sense of possibility. It would be a way to help concretely, without the ephemeral, unknowable quality of animal communication or psychology. It would be at more of an emotional remove from the animals, but more so from the owners, who cling, boil and crumble in their need. Somehow it’s easier to accept that a metal tool or man-made medicine fails than a spiritual search. Somehow it takes some of the weight of responsibility and the need to help others even at the cost of my own energy a little bit off my shoulders. Of course, I am extremely interested by it in itself, but the fact that it is not animal communication does not escape me. Moreover, if I choose to pursue it, I will more than likely have to downplay or cover up my past as a communicator, much as I’ve been trying to forget it myself, for months.

And yet… there were such moments of joy in doing it. There were times when it didn’t matter to me that what I did was not scientifically provable, and that others might think me crazy because of it. There were times I truly believed I was able to communicate with intelligent individuals who just happened to belong to other species, and delight in their personality quirks. And along with the weight of responsibility and the uneasiness of doing the odd, the unscientific, even of being considered a charlatan, there was a feeling of being so very lucky, connected to the world, and maybe just a little bit special.

My last day of work, a co-worker and long-time AC client told me that if I chose to open my practice again, she knew a number of people who would jump at the chance to hire me. A few days ago, out of the blue, I got a call from a hotel that was looking to hire me for their customers, even though I haven’t worked in over a year. If I was of faith, I might start thinking the universe – or my “higher power” – was trying to tell me something. Yet, my scientific mind tells me that pursuing animal communication is like becoming part of a cult or a religion, and charging money for it is fraud, as it can’t possibly be real. It also tells me that my current nostalgia for it is probably due to my depression from being unemployed, my uncertainty in what lies next. It's just when you are vulnerable when the cult gets you, to the scientific mind. It's just when you are in need that the divine reveals itself to save you, those of faith believe.

I want to believe. I want to know what is right. I want to have faith, and I want to have incontrovertible evidence. I want to make an honest living, contribute something to others, and realize my potential. I also want to win the lottery and never have to work again.

So, to me, the question isn’t whether faith is good for human beings. The question is: which kind, and how much? And, if we can come to a reasonable conclusion on that, how can I get it? Because my lack of faith – or the negative, defeatist faith I do have – is wearing me out.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Moving Along

OK, I am officially depressed.

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but I'm not surprised. If I knew I was going to get a job at the clinic, I might feel better. But now it feels like I'm courting them and they're playing coy with me, and I don't know how to deal with it. I'm not naturally optimistic: I expect rejection, bad luck and failure in life. So, even though it's only been a week, I find myself thinking that I was wrong to pursue this and now I'll have to go back to what I deserve: doing any job that will hire me and pay me, no matter how much I hate it.


The signs have been there. I'm still sleeping a lot and odd hours. All I want to eat are grilled cheese snadwiches and cereal. I'm not talking to anyone. I'm barely even leaving the apartment.

That's all bad enough, but do you know what came next?

I discovered Second Life.

Second Life is boring and poorly-rendered. People wander around blocky, half-finished landscapes looking for useless things to buy and sex. Upon actually chatting with some of these people, I've come to learn that there are whole networks of people devoted to playing out fantasies of Elvish tribes protecting and enslaving each other, dressing up like bunnies and practicing BDSM. It's like Lord of The Rings meets D&D meets Hello Kitty meets The Story of O.

Of course, this being the Internets, this is not surprising. But people take it so seriously. Granted, with extrememly limited vocabulary, but seriously, nonetheless. It's fascinating.

And therein lies the sad part, because although I find it repellent to completely immerse oneself in fantasy to escape the world on a regular basis, I see the appeal. I've gone through several periods in my life where I've done this, including protracted period in my childhood where my best friend and I spent most of our time making up elaborate stories because real life was so depressing, and, naturally, some ill-advised internet dating situations. My point being, if there is a place where you can pretend to be whoever you want and noodle around exploring weird stuff while remaining completely safe in your real life, I don't want to get sucked into it. For some people, it is a pleasant diversion. However, if I am depressed, I know that it can all to easily become a perceived refuge, even if it is, all said, pretty boring.

The only upside to this is that you can make money in Second Life. People make virtual clothes and objects and develop virtual land for increasingly tidy sums. And, it does occur to me that, with my level of creativity and experience in this sort of thing (don't even ask Mrs. Nator how much time I spent creating junk for The Sims when it I first discovered it, or how caught up I get in getting my Madden Superstar into the Hall of Fame), I might be able to turn this temporary interest into a bit of cash. The danger is, of course, falling further into the hole of reclusive geekery, which is only so fulfilling. I mean, I admit I'm a geek, but I'm not a serious geek. I'm too old, I rarely txt msg anyone, and I thought The Catswold Portal was for shit. I don't know a thing about Bluetooth or Firewire... I don't even own a game console, people!

I guess what I'm saying, in my roundabout way, is: escapism is fine, even nice, but one has to be careful when one is prone to depression and isolation to begin with. So, once I see the signs I have to admit to myself that I'm down and let meyself feel it, so I can move on. It's understandable that I'm discombobulated and upset: my routine of nine years has abruptly ended! I'm faced with a giant neon sign flashing "NOW WHAT?" and I don't know the answers. Now is the time to tell myself that it's okay - I'm not the only one who's gone through this, and it doesn't make me a failure. It just makes me a fallible, feeling human. I need to learn to love myself for that.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bleep...zort... zztffpt... doing!*

*That, Natorettes, is the sound of my brain shorting out.

You think I'd be happy. Happy that I have just under three months of pay coming in while I am obligated to do nothing. You'd think I'd be doing a jig of joy now that I never have to go back to my job of nine years, during at least five of which I was deeply unhappy.

Well. Not yet.

I'm actually not surprised that when I stumbled home on Friday I immediately collapsed into a howling, weeping mess, then proceeded to sleep on and off through random hours during the weekend. Up at 3:00 a.m., back to bed at 5:30, sleeping until 11:00, up until 2:30, napping, up again at night - you get the picture. And inbetween wobbling around with such an exhausted feeling of surreality. This eventually paired with a headache and backache, and all the while the urge to keep checking on the old company website. Just what the hell was going on?

Well, it turns out that although I perceive myself as a lazy, type-B personality who'd rather never have to work, the prospect of actually having a few weeks off revealed my inner type-A worrywart. After all, when you take a vacation, you know you'll mostly likely have your job at the end. In this case, not having gainful employment for the first time in, oh, 20-odd years has made me a tad... neurotic.

It might be different if the job at the vet clinic was certain. Even if it pays less than half of what I've been making - and it does - the idea has been that the job would be a step in the process of trying a new career that might be fulfilling. However, since nothing is yet set, I find myself not only worried about what's going to come next, but a bit panicked.

Isn't it a bit depressing when you realize you've bought into the system? Honestly, there's a part of me that doesn't feel worthy, doesn't know how to define or explain myself, unless I have a job. I find myself actually thinking "I'm a failure," or, "I don't know what I'm doing with my life! I'm thinking of getting into... male modelling."

Anyway, I'm doing a little better today, after an actual night's sleep and a day of enjoying Torchwood episodes and unlimited bowls of La Lechera cereal. Ah, La Lechera. Come to me with your sweet, creamy Latina goodness in sensible shoes. You make me feel... lecherous...**

Over the next week I'll be doing household chores, trying to get another meeting and volunteer shift at the clinic, and working on my freelance site. Or I'll be relaxing. Or I'll be thinking I should do all those things, but getting so tense about it that I succeed at none of them. Place your bets!

**Please don't kill me for the horrible pun; it's a genetic disorder.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

¡Olé! - Parte Dos

Just an update on the guacamole recipe: yes, you may add cilantro. Mrs. Nator just doesn't because I prefer my guac cilantro-free (I feel cilantro works better in other areas of the meal). So, don't feel hemmed in!

If you try the recipe, let us know how it goes. Did you make a few changes? What did you eat it with? Did you feel the need to run out and buy an authetic pumice mortar and pestle? Nosy minds want to know...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wow. I Guess I ROCK!

I did it. I asked for more severance, and now I'm getting two month's worth! Woooooooo!!!

This is going to make a huge difference for us financially. Depending on what hours and pay I get offered by the vet clinic, we may even be able to actually go on vacation this year.

Keep your good-vibe hats on, though, and think of me around 3:00 PM, ET, today. That's when I'm meeting with the folks at the vet clinic. I'm still nervous, but knowing I'm set for two months takes a big load off, believe you me.

Did I say Woooooooo!!!?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Oh, Shit

So, my soon to be ex-boss calls me today, and out of the blue asks "have you considered asking for 2 or 3 times the severance pay they're giving you?"

Um. What?

The truth is, when I'd first talked to HR, they told me they never pay severance, and the two people I know who've been laid off from this place, including Mrs. Nator, got none. So, I was happy to be getting a month's worth, plus two month's health coverage. I never considered asking for more, because they could easily say "well, now you'll get nothing, Greedypants McWhinerson!"

After a bit of stuttering, I said to my boss, "um, not to put you in a difficult position or anything, but - do you know something I don't?"

She replied that she merely knew some people who'd asked for more and gotten it. However, when I explained my reasoning for not rocking the boat thus far, she told me to feel free to disregard what she'd said, if I feel that's the right thing to do.

So, I was content, and now I'm confused. It's not like the boss said she was advocating for more severance for me. She kind of backed off with a "what do I know, I don't make these decisions" attitude at the end of the conversation. I certainly don't want to lose the pay I've already been offered. But, should I ask for more?

Ow, my head...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


By popular demand, here's Mrs. Nator's Semi-Famous Killer Guac recipe. You can pair it with her yummy baked chip recipe, below, or FN's Coveted Burrito Recipe. South meets northeast meets west for a flavormonious taste sensation!!!

N.B.: As with many guacamole recipes, Mrs. Nator cautions that the key to this one is flavouring "to taste". Feel free to tweak as desired, depending on available ingredients and your desires.

Mrs. Nator's Semi-Famous Killer Guac!

2 ripe avocados (nice and black)
1 lime, juiced
1 jalapeno pepper
1 small onion
½ clove garlic (or whole, depending on your taste)
1 tomato, seeded
Olive oil and salt to taste

Finely chop onions and garlic and strain under cold water for a few seconds (cuts the bitterness) and put in bowl. Chop pepper and add to onion. Peel avocado and add to bowl. Mash with onion mixture using a fork or potato masher. Add seeded tomato, salt, and lime juice to taste. You may not need all the juice – depends on your taste. Stir. Add olive oil, just to right consistency (probably 1 -2 tablespoons). Try with:

Mrs. Nator's E-Z Low Fat Chips!

Olive oil
Chili powder (optional)

Slice the tortillas to desired size. Rub with olive oil. Sprinkle chili and salt. Cook in oven on high – 450-500 degrees – until toasted brown. Usually only takes a few minutes.

E-Z, no? But trust me, simple = delicious. These chips are so much better for you than the bagged, fried variety, that you can almost excuse dipping them in the deadly Ro*Tel/Velveeta combination dip. You can also make "nachos" by melting beans and cheese on the chips and adding guac.

¡Muchas gracias, Señora Natór!


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Monday, April 02, 2007


Oh, look – it’s a way to procrastinate from formatting the dreaded “career change” résumé… I mean, a lovely meme that Warrior Two tagged me to do.

Eight Songs I Am Diggin’ On Right Now:
Dude, I am so lame about music nowadays. There was a time when music was my life, I lived it and breathed it. I performed in coffee houses, made amateur tapes and dreamed of being a professional performer. I have 3 ring binders full of songs I wrote, gathering dust with my old drumsticks and three guitars.

Now I barely even listen to it anymore, and tend to say things like “I don’t understand these kids nowadays and their music,” or “this new band is just imitating X band from my youth. There’s nothing new under the sun”, &c. I spend more time watching TV and on the Interwebs, honestly. Even if I do listen to music, it’s often older stuff.

Have I grown up, or just become old?

Anyway, let’s see what I can think of…

1. Keane, “Is It Any Wonder.” I think this was a hit last year. Nice little emo/indie rock tune, showing the influence of U2, who they opened for on tour. I got into this song when it lodged in my head after playing five hundred times on the Madden 07 soundtrack.

Incidentally, my new Madden superstar is our big, tall adopted son, Bayard. He’s a rookie wide receiver for Kansas City this year, but I’m hoping I can get him a contract with the Giants. He’s a killer kick returner, too. He looks like a taller Tiki Barber. Hee.

2. OK Go, "Invincible". You’ve gotta enjoy the clever premise of a song that imagines the singer’s heartless lover forcefully thwarting an alien invasion. At least, I do.

Runner up: OK Go, “Do What You Want.” Mainly because you can never get enough cowbell!

3. The theme from “Cubis 2”. I play this game on my iPod almost every day during my commute, and the burbling, loopy synthesized soundtrack is now constantly stuck in my head. Fortunately, it’s a pretty good one. Unfortunately, I also find myself obsessively creating cube combinations in my head, just like I used to do with Minesweeper and Tetris, and Mrs. Nator now does with Sudoku.

4. Stevie Wonder, “Power Flower.” A classic from my youth. Not a hit, this song comes from The Secret Life of Plants, a double album of what was supposed to be a soundtrack for a movie that I don’t think was ever released. The album didn’t do very well for a Wonder release, mainly because a lot of it was atmospheric. I still liked it, though, and this is one of my go-to songs while singing in the shower. It’s a sunny love ballad to nature sung in the voice of Pan, the Greek god thereof. Avoiding the obvious bleat of a goat, however, Wonder sings in an unexpected, smooth falsetto that could put Smokey Robinson to shame. The synthesized backgrounds are a little hokey and dated, but this song never fails to put me in a calm, contented mood. I’ve been listening to it on occasion lately just to relieve stress!

5. Stevie Wonder, “Love’s In Need of Love Today.” Another classic, this time from Songs In The Key of Life. The theme can make you sad, but the melody and singing lift you.

Runner up: the equally good remake by Joan Osborne. Joan is one of my favourite current female vocalists. Honestly, she just kicks ass.

6. Scissor Sisters, “Better Luck Next Time.” Cornball, bouncy, snarky, gay alterna-disco. What’s not to love?

7. Kate Bush, “Cloudbusting.” Kate Bush is one of the most original pop artists out there, and Hounds of Love is still my favourite album of hers. In fact, it’s one of the few albums that makes me actually miss the LP format, as the tracks are divided to tell different stories on either side.

In this song, Kate is telling a story that is both heartbreaking and encouraging. Who is this woman? Why was her father taken away by shadowy men? And yet her memories of her father are filled with joy:

Ev’ry time it rains
I hear you in my head
Like the sun’s coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is gonna happen
I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen…
Kate Bush is one of the only artists whose songs have actually made me cry, even after repeated listenings. I also made my mom cry by playing “This Woman’s Work,” for her one time. I don’t know why this particular song of Bush’s has been in my head lately – it could be any of a number of hers, instead. But it’s so bittersweetly evocative that once it’s there it’s hard to let go.

8. The Darkness, “Knockers.” HeeHeeHeeee… knockers! I just love The Darkness. They’re like the illicit love children of Queen and the band “Limozeen” from the Homestar Runner cartoons. They just crack my shit all up… and they can play!

I am still utterly heartbroken that the lead singer left before I could see them in concert. Sigh.

If money were no object, what would you be doing with your life?
Get a personal chef and trainer. Travel the world. Make a lot of donations, particularly for the boo-boo animals. Spend more time with animals and learn more about them. Give nice things to my family and friends. Buy a brownstone in Brooklyn and a vacation house. Learn to SCUBA dive & snowboard. Take writing and photography courses. Have my own home recording studio.

As most of you know, I did start a writing workshop recently, but had to stop due to the job madness. I still hope to take a SCUBA course this summer, though, if money and time allow.

Money is just that - an object, so why aren’t you doing it?
Um, as I said, I’m trying to do what I can when I can swing it. I did get to go to Costa Rica twice and Hawaii once, snorkel, hike volcanoes, and meet wild animals. I’m pursuing being a vet tech and SCUBA, and work on writing and photography when I can. I sponsor a child in Ecuador and give donations when I can. I try to give nice stuff for Xmas and birthdays, and it’s in our plans to buy at least an apartment someday. Uh, I sing in the shower…

So, really, I’m doing things I’d do with money, only on a smaller scale. Hey, just get off my back, people!

What’s better: horses or cows?
I try not to make value judgments on animals – just humans.

What do you think the secret to happiness is?
Great, now I’ve got that damn You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown song going through my head …

When was the last time you had a dream that you either remember well or did not want to awake from? Can you share a bit?
Um, I dreamt last night that my boss threw a party for my last week (fat chance) and on the stairs of the opera house made this big announcement that I could come back and see whatever show I wanted for free whenever I wanted. I was like “um… thanks.” I wasn’t sorry I woke up.

That’s actually not exemplary, because I tend to have very wild and symbolic dreams. I’ll tell you one of my favourites that I had when I was a teenager. I used to have reoccurring nightmares about tidal waves. I’m not sure why they started, but over time the waves grew smaller and smaller until the last few were puddles. I’d like to think this means I’ve conquered some fears they represented, or something.

Anyway, in this dream I was walking down a beach by a city. Suddenly people started running around hysterically screaming that it was the end of the world. I looked toward the sea and there was this infinitely huge wave rushing towards us. I could see animals, trees, cars and pieces of buildings roiling in it, like it had already been partly around the world and swept it away. I knew instantly that this was it – the water was going to engulf and destroy everything in a few seconds, and there was nothing I could do. I briefly wondered if I should pray, but then just as the first droplet hit me I suddenly thought aloud, “hey, didn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that God said he’d never destroy the Earth by flood again?”

No sooner had I said it than the water covered me. But then I heard a loud, deep, echoing voice say: “Hmm. I forgot about that. Maybe I’ll come back in a few eons sometime when I’ve thought of something else.” In an instant, with a gigantic zzzzooorcht like the emptying of a drain, the water was gone, and I had saved the world!

I woke up laughing. I told my father about it at breakfast, and I believe he worked it into a sermon that Sunday.

When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I went through the typical phases of fireman, astronaut and superhero. Does fantasizing about riding into my nursery school playground in armor on a white horse and rescuing my teacher, who would then marry me, count?

Later on I wanted to be a magician, and after that a rock star. So practical, I was!

Complete this statement: Love is…
“… a many spleeeendooored thiiiiing!”

But seriously, love is awesome. I am so grateful for those I love: my friends, family, and chosen family of the amazing Mrs. Nator and our critters. I had always been a romantic and hoped for a “soul mate” (bleeaurgh!), but I’d given up by the time I met her. Now, my life is gloriously changed and better than ever. I love you, Mrs. Nator, my Boo!

Can you tell a good story?
There once was a man from Nantucket…

Can you remember your last daydream? What was it about?
Um… buying scrubs for my new job. Hee. I’m so obsessed with them… they’ve become my little symbolic badge of being an “animal care professional,” I think…

My usual daydreams, however? Involve snuggling with the cats or diving someplace with gorgeous coral and sealife, like Hawai’i.

Mmmm, Hawai’i…

If you were to thank someone today, who would you thank?
Mrs. Nator, because I should thank her every day, for everything she does and is. (Awww!)

And that’s it. I shall tag Helen, mainly because she’s given me some good suggestions for music in the past. But I have no illusions that she will actually do this meme. Enjoy!