Maktaaq, first of all, should be pronounced “muktuk.” An Inuktitut word, maktaaq is an Inuit delicacy: the layer of blubber on a narwhal, best eaten raw.
This Blog’s Cast of Characters
My first hamster in adulthood, AniÅŸoara was the quintessential hamster daredevil. She leaped off kitchen counters, got trapped in a hole in the wall, and chewed through the toaster oven electrical cord. Adopted from a Richmond, BC family who moved to Montreal, I found her in one of those “free to good home” ads in the Buy & Sell paper. She passed away in July 2004. Her name is pronounced “A-knee-shwa-ra.”
This second hamster was pure evil to AniÅŸoara’s perfect goodness, CrenguÅ£Äƒ was born with a chip on her shoulder. The SPCA gave me a discount on her and they made me sign a document that I wouldn’t bring her back – surely the SPCA does this with all adopted animals, but the woman I dealt with at the SPCA seemed especially eager to get rid of CrenguÅ£Äƒ. CrenguÅ£Äƒ died in June 2006. Her name is pronounced “Kren-goo-ts-ugh.”
Valentina came to me from Small Animal Rescue as a young hamster. A good-natured hamster, we hardly got to know her before she starved to death – she ran away in horror when CrenguÅ£Äƒ died, was locked in the basement during our frantic search for her and was only found, dead, after two weeks. I blame myself for her death.
Our last hamster, Lucian, was a big fluff ball of placid hamster, again in the vein of AniÅŸoara. My first male hamster, his lifespan was supposed to have exceeded that of a female hamster. He died in September 2007. His name is pronounced “Loo-chee-an.”
Born in 1997, this 17-pound black cat is my favourite foot warmer. His hobbies are sleeping, eating, getting stoned on catnip, attacking the laundry bag, leaping into pant legs, claiming boxes for the Queen’s empire, wiping his butt on my cream-coloured carpet, drinking from the faucet, and shuffling paper. Everyone remarks on what a friendly cat Ivan is. He has tuna breath.
Paco is one of our two new guinea pigs, also from Small Animal Rescue of BC. A gregarious cheep-fest, he is the biter and the smaller of our cavies.
Though larger than Paco, Chuy is shyer. He hogs the straw house and usually manages to sneak a bite at Paco’s rightful meals. Chuy pees on humans as a defense mechanism. With a human-sized bladder, his potential predators give up sooner rather than later.
My smart, handsome and funny husband, he is Texan but makes really great Indian, Mexican and Russian accents. His latest obsessions are board games; in the past, it’s been the Wii and Kingdom of Loathing. He especially likes reads critically acclaimed contemporary fiction and has a penchant for exceptionally thick books like Infinite Jest, the Wind-up Bird Chronicles, the Brothers Karamazov, and Gravity’s Rainbow. He had the same amount of books as I did coming into this marriage, which we merged into our exceptional library. He feeds me far too much. He blogs at onomatopoeia.org.
I am neither a whale, nor portions thereof, nor am I Inuit. So why this name? I do have a thing for Arctic and polar history.
I also have a thing for the following:
- Good horror films: I like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ring (the Japanese version), The Others, and Session 9. Then there’s the Supernatural tv show. For the last four years, my preferred sub-genre has been zombie movies.
- The supernatural: I’m a big fan of Gegege no Kitaro comics, Edward Gorey books, kappas and other Japanese creepy things, cemeteries, Odilon Redon’s early works, ghost tours, haunted houses and abandoned buildings, and true ghost stories. However, I have watched too many movies to ever mess around with a ouija board.
- Animals: I really like all animals, even the disgusting cockroach, to whom I give thanks for providing me with countless stories by which I can disgust my coworkers.
- Books: so much do I like books, that I had to place a moratorium on book-buying. Unless they are art books or books that have been on my wishlist for more than five years. I don’t actually read these books, since I don’t have the time. When I do read books, I take so many notes it may take me many months to finish one book.
- Tove Jansson: her stories of Hattifatteners, surly ancestors under the sink, and the Groke inspired me to not bother growing up like normal girls who only mess about with makeup and teen dramas. I spent my high school years drawing pictures, reading about Renaissance tortures, making Maoist speeches, and recreating my own version of contemporary faux-Victorian poetry.
- George Herriman: his Krazy Kat comics are funny and real pretty to look at.
- Polyglotism: I was unlucky enough to have been raised in North America. If I had grown up in Europe, like I was meant to, I would have spoken twenty languages fluently by now. As it is, I only speak a smattering of English, Mandarin, Romanian, Japanese, Italian and French.
- Travelling: the more annoying the travel experience, the better stories to tell, I say.
Proudly Romanian, I also have some Moldovan stock in me. My Romanian-ness has manifested itself in the following ways:
- In all my elementary school photos, I am wearing an ie.
- I believe in the awful consequences of “catching a draft.”
- I don’t believe Ozone is gay.
- I never inform the clerk if they give me too much change back.
- I must clean up the house before any guests arrive.
- I like spontaneous visits from people who were just in the neighbourhood.
- I ply innocent Canadians with my parents’ tuica, or plum brandy – our moonshine.
- My living room walls display Romanian icons.
- Mamaliga, for me, is a meal in and of itself.
- I am almost always late.
- I eat liver pate sandwiches regularly.
- Mild-mannered in English, my voice rises a few decibels when I speak Romanian.
- I kiss on both cheeks.
- I wear a Romanian ribbon pin on my coat lapel. (Plus plenty of Romanian tricolour ribbons, in case I lose my pin.)
Having lived in Austria, China, Taiwan, and Japan, I also feel a certain affinity for these countries. I have also travelled to, among other places, to Italy, Ethiopia, the Philippines – countries which can also count on me for their cheerleading squad. One day, I will fully take advantage of my newfound EU citizenship.
For now, I live in the crankiest part of Canada: Vancouver.
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