Dear diary . . .

Author: natalie  //  Category: Home sweet home, It's all about me, Life with children

It’s not often that I allow all of you into the inner sanctum of my mind. I know you’re thinking, “My gosh, woman! If what I’ve seen comes only from the outer surface, you are a total fruit loop!” You’re probably right.  And I’ve had a busier than usual week which left me little time to dream up something silly for your edification. So I’ll try a different route this week. It should suffice beautifully since someone told me when I started this gig that most folks just enjoy observing someone else’s craziness. Stay tuned. There will be a fantastic train wreck. Who knows when, but in the end I’ll probably not disappoint. Anyway, recent excerpts from my diary:

Any day: My long stint as a live-in maid is drawing to an end, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. For the second time, I have checked out from the library “What Color Is Your Parachute? : A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers” by Richard Bolles. Poring over each page for the second time while taking notes, I thought of all that inspirational talk about “who is packing your parachute?”.  I’ve determined I don’t have a parachute to pack. Guess I better get one. Pronto.

Everyday: Laundry. Laundry. And more laundry. Like my MawMaw King used to say, “It’s like the tide.” It’s never going to stop coming in. And I can’t find the words to describe the special feeling that washes over my entire being when I find FOLDED, clean clothes from the last batch in the dirty clothes hampers.  If I really wanted to live up to some of the names I’ve surely been called by the not-so-little teenage darlings who put them there, I’d place the now-smells-like-dirty-socks clothes in the drawers for wearing. (I don’t do it because the adults around my children during the day would surely notice the odor. A stay-at-home mom sending her kids out in filthy-smelling clothes . . . I don’t need that kind of publicity.)

Today: I didn’t exercise AND treated myself to nearly an entire box of Nabisco’s Chicken in a Biskit crackers while I—just for grins—read Clinton Kelly’s (Of TLC channel’s “What Not to Wear”) book “Oh No She Didn’t : The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them”. I’m a fashion failure. I lost count, but I had committed at least 96 of his so-called “crimes”.  Lock me up, please.  I need a vacation and wearing the same jumpsuit everyday would remove the stress I’ll now feel upon entering the little house of horrors: my closet.   

Someday: I have big plans. I don’t know exactly what they are yet, but they’re big. Where do I want to be in five years? HA!  More realistic might be to think about where I’d like to be in five minutes. I might have some shred of control there.

And there you have it. Putting it all down on paper I realized that my surface thoughts are actually far more interesting that what’s going on in the under-construction deep far reaches. It’s pretty barren and there’s an awful echo. Hear the train whistle?

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

An archer no more?

Author: natalie  //  Category: It's all about me

Ever have one of those days, or maybe weeks, where it seemed your world had been upended? Like there was a planetary shift or something? It wasn’t your imagination, and there is an explanation. I sort of like it when I find out things didn’t go according to my plan for an interstellar reason— shifts the blame and reminds me there are things out of my control.

By now, most of you have probably heard that one Parke Kunkle of The Minnesota Planetarium Society set out to create a collective tailspin for those of us born on certain dates. I’m sort of amazed we all continued to function, but life has gone on. We’re a tough lot.

Kunkle created the stir when he publicly stated that due to changes in Earth’s alignment many zodiac signs have changed.  Say what?

Dates have been tinkered with and a “new” zodiac added. Some of us are not what we thought. The new sign: Ophiuchus, the serpent holder, includes those of us born November 30 – December 17. Supposedly I am one.  I can’t even pronounce it not to mention the fact that I’d rather die than hold a serpent.

Not all of us were affected by this revelation—which hard core astrologers rebutted by saying what Kunkle mentioned is something that has been previously noted and accounted for, thus changing nothing —but for a time and while the sides argued I was plunged into a yet deeper identity crisis in that according to this “new” information I was no longer a Sagittarian. (It took me almost 40 years to figure myself out. Now I’m supposed to embrace a serpent?  That’s just great. And, thanks, but I’ll pass.)

It was hard enough accepting  the fact that I was already a freakish hybrid – supposedly introverted Sags are not common—but in my own quirky way I wore it as a badge of honor.  According to Kunkle, everything I thought I knew about me: wrong. While I take delight in keeping others guessing, it’s not so funny when even I can’t figure me out in light of his “new” information. Lunacy?  Quite possible.

I’m clearly a centaur archer: half human, half horse. (Have you seen a centaur? Upper half human, lower half horse. Yes, I have plenty of moments where I’m half human, half horse’s behind. Figured I’d say it before someone else beat me to it.) So, I’ll politely thumb my nose at Mr. Kunkle, because I don’t have the energy to reinvent myself at this point in the galactic game.

But as it turned out, some kind soul finally stated in all the confusion that the changes only apply to those born in 2011 and after.  What a relief. There’s no way I could make these kinds of changes now. It’s not in the stars I see when hit with something so life altering.

Yes, my eyes are rolling, and it will take me a week to dig my tongue out of my cheek.  But for the record: I’m still not touching a serpent!

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Clear as frozen mud?

Author: natalie  //  Category: Life with children

The little cold snaps we get chill me to the bone and serve as a bit of a comical reminder that this girl —born and raised in balmy southeast Texas — really has no concept of cold or winter for that matter. Furthermore, I have no burning desire to be educated on the topic. It is kind of a shame, though, not being able to fully enjoy the soft, thick comforts of a winter wardrobe except on a few select days.

Anyway, as we all experienced the dip in the mercury I endured a life event that caused me to pause and ponder the fantasy of freezing time: My oldest child turned 18. (I know, my youthful appearance —generously granted genetically to me through the ultra-young looking Linda Rowe and Ruby Watson—make it appear not possible, but tis true.) So, technically and by the letter of the law, I am now the parent of an adult. 

(We’ll pause here for snickering. We all know true adulthood in many cases now has been pushed nearly a full decade forward. Sigh. He and I both want to let go. Apron strings: not a problem. Purse strings: don’t get me started. Heart strings . . . we’ll keep those, but we’re both making adjustments.)

In many ways, it seems I became frozen in time as I embarked on motherhood. So much of what I thought defined me was boxed, flash frozen and set on the freezer shelf as my definition had forever changed. Over time and two more children later, that box moved to the far reaches of said freezer where it remained for at least a decade and a half.

In physics, cryogenics is the study of producing very low temperatures — WAY below freezing.  And that brings me to cryonics: the emerging field of medical technology involving cryopreservation whereby human and animals cells are frozen with the intent of future revival.

Without getting bogged down in things we mere mortals can barely understand, it seems science has figured out a way to rapidly freeze without damaging cell function, but the thawing-out process is still troublesome and where things go haywire. What a revelation.

In a fraction of a nanosecond I froze the pre-motherhood me. And as I have spent the past few years in a slow thaw, medical science has helped me see why things won’t be as smooth on this end of the process.

Now that I’m far beyond potty training, lost teeth, and watching over small bodies as they sleep, sometimes I wish I could have frozen them at say the tender age of three when they truly believed I was all-knowing.  Oh the possibilities if I could have learned with them standing still in time, but we know that’s not possible.

As life cycles dictate, more and more motherhood will move from center stage and what was will thaw and reemerge, but nowhere near the same.  For a while I suppose it’s OK to feel like a somewhat muddy puddle. But science or maybe just life has also taught me that if I’m still and patient (not my strong suit) long enough the mud will settle and the water will be clear. I can’t wait to see what was meant to be.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Ignorance is bliss

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you, It's all about me

I suppose a sign that I’m getting older —as opposed to old—is that I’m becoming set in my ways. And to be honest, I’m not interested in changing.

Nowhere in my life is the preceding more true than when it comes to electronic gadgetry. In case you haven’t noticed, small hand-held electronics have taken over some individual worlds and are collectively taking over the universe. My stubbornness causes me to be left behind the trend.  I use the ones I must to survive and only because I went there kicking and screaming.  

Take for example my cell phone:  You should have seen the confusion on faces when I walked into my service provider’s store and explained I wanted one that made phone calls. Period.  Because all phones have text messaging capability, I have graduated and become quite adept. It was that or lose all contact with some of the humans in my life.

The “smart phones”, I’m not smart enough. But it doesn’t matter. When I step outside the confines of my home I enjoy being away from the internet and phone.  Only a select few have the number to the Nat phone  . . .  not to be confused with the super-secret Bat phone. Facebook (I have a love/hate relationship with the social network, but that’s another story for another day) and email have no place in my away-from-home life. I’m simply not that important, nor do I want to be that accessible all the live-long day.

It’s no secret, either, that I am an avid reader. So, the e-reader craze —Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook—has been brought to my attention plenty of times. Close family members own them, and I have had a chance to explore the electronic wonders. I don’t like them.  I know, I know, I can carry an entire library in my purse and have it at my fingertips any time I please. Doesn’t matter.  I like the feel of a book in my hands. And I don’t care how realistic the sound of an electronic page turning is, it’s not the same.

My new car: More bells and whistles than I know what to do with! The push of a button (if I knew which one to push) will do and tell me all sorts of things I supposedly need and need to know.  Accelerator, brakes, steering wheel, and basic radio. That’s all I need because the car “senses” everything else and adjusts for me!  I will never use the full capabilities of that machinery. Sort of seems like a waste.

And someone near and dear to me keeps his grocery list on a cell-phone “app” (that’s an electronic program application for my brethren even less informed than me) . . . sorted by the aisles of the grocery store! I’m sorry, but faster than he can consult the extra appendage now permanently attached to his hand, I can write it down on the magnetic notepad stuck to the side of my refrigerator.  Since I spend countless hours in the stores, no need for aisle numbers; I know where everything is located.

Come to think of it, maybe I am smart enough.  I have all the information I need to function through my day right up in the old noodle. I guess that’s why I don’t panic when I’m not electronically tethered, unlike some people I know.  So in this case, I’d say ignorance is bliss!

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Traveling to a new dimension in 2011

Author: natalie  //  Category: Holidays

I’ll confess from the outset that my mind is all over the place this week. For starters, I’m cohabitating with kids full time while school is out. That on top of messed-up sleep patterns and a recent patch of watching too much television caused my disorientation. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

 On this second day of the brand-new year I sit contemplating that 2011 is a Rabbit year under the Chinese zodiac. No, I’m not “up” on the subject, nor do I dwell upon this type of thing, but I frequently immerse myself in Asian culture while dining at the Hibachi Buffet. 

Being so cultured, my ears perked when I heard a news story about the approaching Rabbit. Supposedly, this will be a more peaceful, fun, relaxing year as the ferocious 2010 Tiger leaves.  Be patient, though, the change won’t be official until February 2; calmness may not settle over us until then. I’ll take serenity whenever I can get it.

Anyway, I know you’d expect no less from me, so I have derived my own little system of prognosticating. 2011 will likely be the Twilight Zone for me. I got the notion from an annual tradition that causes me to glue myself to the TV overnight and for hours longer than I will watch combined for the remainder of the year: watching the SyFy —used to be Sci-Fi— channel’s “Twilight Zone” New Years marathon. (Should you ever need a cure for insomnia look up that name change and the resulting whimpering and gnashing of the teeth. Some people really need to get a life. Seriously, is that all you have to be upset about?) Yes, I’m aware I could own them all on DVD and view at my leisure. That takes all the fun out of it.

In spite of the fact that the series started a decade before I was even born, I love it. So what if it’s black and white with now laughable special effects. The stories are classic—written by the likes of Ray Bradbury among others.  Episodes deliver a mix of fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and horror often concluding with an unexpected twist.  Most were weaved into what could have been real life upping the ante and causing the viewer to feel a little (or a lot) unnerved.

Even better, writers were using science fiction for social comment and going uncensored because television networks at the time were ignorant of such a delivery method. Brilliant. What stark contrast to where we are now: We let it all hang out, heck, spoon-feed it, no need for any thought process. Sad.

Long before the popular TV show took the name, twilight zone simply meant “gray area”. And that’s precisely what I’m feeling for 2011. Tough for a girl who spent most her 40 years categorizing life events black, white, or other colors of the rainbow. Gray was never an option, and I certainly shied away from unexpected endings – gave me some silly sense of control. (Insert maniacal laugh here.)

Armed with a nice span of powerful ideas brought forth through cautionary tales more about human behavior than aliens and/or monsters, I’ll enter this “dimension of imagination” and do my best not to appear cheesy with dramatic flair. It will be a journey of sight, sound, and mind, for I have now entered The Twilight Zone.

© Natalie Whatley 2011