Out of this world mad

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

I’m not quite sure what’s up with my little corner of the universe. Just seems I’m battling on too many fronts and on my way to dying from a thousand little cuts by having this way creep into normalcy. What really bothers me is that I’m one of the most optimistic people I know. When I cease seeing the bright side, alarms go off in a tiny corner of my mind.

Plus, I reminded co-workers of the late Eddie Chiles whose trademark radio sign-on was, “I’m Eddie Chiles, and I’m mad as hell!” Learned I needed an “I’m mad too, Eddie” bumper sticker, too.

It took hearing something a little goofy on the radio for me to get a slight grasp on what the problem might be.

Recall last week how I went on a bit of a tirade over petty behavior at a local junior school.

It’s little things like that driving me bonkers! And it’s not that I care so much over such ridiculous behavior as I’m annoyed over how much space I give that garbage in my head.  My family and I have far bigger turkeys to roast.

Put in most basic terms: I’m quite fed up and irritated by folks who get their under bloomers in a twist over things that in the grand scheme don’t matter a lick. And yeah, I realize we all have very individual preferences on what’s important and worth wasting . . .uh, spending time on. But I digress.

Getting back to the radio program, there was a funny discussion about “First World Problems”. I had never heard that term and when callers added to the discussion I got a chuckle.

First-world problems are frustrating little annoyances only those of us living in developed, wealthy (by comparison) nations “suffer” from.

Think internet being down, food server getting an order slightly off or the ever popular trying to get the ceiling fan adjusted just right in combination with warm blankets and the heater running. 

Then it hit me how aggravated I really was over others’ silly aggravations and how they frequently dump a hefty bag of that trash at my mental doorstep. And with my court-jester-hat bells jingling, I run to open the door and let it all pour in.

Shame on me, and know I’m busy constructing a gate at said doorstep.  There will be a super-secret entry code.  Of course all of you will have it.

I feel super blessed and privileged to live in a first-world location where petty annoyances are possible because unlike those in third-world countries, my most immediate concerns are not where I’ll get clean water, a safe place to sleep or my next meal.

But it’d sure be out-of-this world special if I could learn not to let others’ petty ways become my first-world problem.  Until I do, I’m mad too, Eddie!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Too hot to mishandle

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

I spend an inordinate amount of time here being silly, but this week I’ll temper it—part antics of a possibly brain-damaged, middle-aged woman and part summer-season public-service announcement.

If you’re the stunning Linda Rowe—aka Mom to me—put the paper down and walk away. There are some things you don’t want to know.

OK, Mom. I know you’re still with us. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As I have confessed before, I have a long-standing, serious relationship with Mr. Sun. He lifts my spirits with his brightness and warmth and makes me glow. After all, he is the “glorious lamp of heaven”.

Dermatologists surely bristle.  

I practice what I consider moderation realizing any exposure is unacceptable these days. I can’t help it. A slightly rebellious gal could partake of far worse in my estimation.

Anyway, Memorial Day weekend Sunny and I had a hot date.

I usually limit our time to one hour—30 minutes each front and back. But as the late spring/early summer season progresses I additionally “cook” the left and right sides of my body causing my exposure window to be slightly longer. Hour and a half tops.

I followed my rotisserie-like rotation while reading a great book, sipping water, and sweating profusely—more than usual in fact, and that made sense in 20/20 hindsight.

When our time was up, I bid Sunny good-bye and started my short trek to the indoors.

Freshly bronzed, I stepped through the back door and the room began to swirl. Shaky legs carried me on to the kitchen where I promptly found a chair. Mere seconds later my condition drastically worsened: severe nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, loss of coordination . . . the not-so-good works.

Through tunnel-like vision I saw my life flashing and bananas on the nearby island. Minimal brain function told me I’d become overheated and that the potassium-laden fruit would save me, so I stood to  get one . . .only to find I didn’t have the strength to break one free from the bunch. Odd.

A loud CRACK preceded “lights out”.

Somewhere between one and three minutes later I “came to” slightly confused over my ground-level location.

With sputtering cerebral synapses firing, I realized the crack I heard, but didn’t feel, was my noggin crashing into the hard kitchen floor. 

As clearer vision returned, I looked up, saw the full knife block I apparently raked across the counter-top on the way down teetering precariously over my head  – half on, half off the counter.  Gravity was being defied.  Maybe I even saw a little angel—wings furiously fluttering—holding it up. 

I sat up, pushed the knives back, and for the most part felt perfectly fine. Suppose I just needed a re-boot.

But the point of all this is to tell you: I’m a seasoned, frequently-exerts-herself-through-all-seasons-in-the-outdoor-climate kind of girl . . . and I surely suffered heat exhaustion. It came on quickly and without warning (the heavier than usual sweating was a sign). I’d never experienced it before.

I hadn’t eaten in several hours and was not taking in nearly enough fluids. Neither of those things seemed significant before the heated incident. I should have known better.

I felt a little weak and had a headache the rest of the day—still sporting a nice goose egg on the back of my head among other minor bodily contusions, but otherwise I’m fine. Maybe it knocked some sense into me. Scared me for sure.

Don’t follow in my stupid footsteps. The heat is already too hot to mishandle.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Math with enemies

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

Recall that several months ago I nearly had to check myself into a rehab facility to get over an addiction to the computer word-forming game Bookworm.  I managed to break free after going cold-turkey and never looked back. Life was good. Words and I lived once again in perfect harmony until . . .

My dear friends, I have stumbled once again and been lured into a torrid relationship with yet another word game: Words with Friends.

 If you haven’t heard, it’s a multi-player word game where players take turns building words crossword-puzzle style with an opponent in a manner similar to the classic board game Scrabble. The rules of the games are similar but Words with Friends is not officially associated with Scrabble.

Decades of reading, writing, and playing word games has gifted me with a better than average (no bragging intended) vocabulary that aids me tremendously in annoying my offspring. I have been duly chastised for speaking in terms they don’t even want to know and forcing them to befriend a dictionary to figure out exactly what I mean. What can I say? It’s the little things in life that give me a charge.

But moving along, this is the same game that caused Alec Baldwin to be booted from a recent flight when he refused to shut down his electronic gadget because that meant being away from the game. In my pre-Words days I thought that whole episode was just silly. Now I understand . . . a little too well.   

I haven’t had my transportation disrupted, yet, but I know what it’s like having a big play all planned out and waiting for your turn. To be cut off at such a crucial moment is . . . well, torture.  The word inhumane comes to mind, too.

Still my problem has been of a little different variety.

After having my posterior handed to me on a gleaming silver platter one time too many I started looking into the game and reading tips from top strategists.

Ended up I was making some huge mistakes, the first of which was believing my ample vocabulary gave me an edge. It did not.

More than anything when it comes down to scoring the most points and winning the game, Words with Friends is about math.  My word knowledge doesn’t really mean diddly squat. And by the way, math is not my strong suit.

So, I’ve had to learn strategize – play a good offense as well as defense, which also means holding back some seemingly amazing word plays to avoid setting up my opponent for an even bigger score.  And I’ve never been one to hold back my words. It’s quite the challenge.

But odder is going nose-to-nose with “friends” and having it turn contemptuous. I’m even learning to trash-talk. Is it any big surprise my mouth writes checks my ultimate gaming skills can’t cash because sometimes I’ve got such a great word to flout that the numbers just be darned?  

The makers of the game got the name all wrong because once you get going it’s Math with Enemies not Words with Friends, but I’m counting down the minutes until I get to play again.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

The Miss Astor disaster

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

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the British passenger liner Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean after a collision with an iceberg.

Billed as one of the deadliest peacetime maritime accidents, its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City claimed the lives of 1,514 people.

Passengers included some of the wealthiest people in the world, as well as over a thousand emigrants from Great Britain, Scandinavia, Ireland and elsewhere seeking a new life in North America.

While I knew of Titanic and its sinking, it was never much an interest to me until I got verbally sassy one day and a gentleman jokingly told me to “watch your tone young lady”.

His tone reminded me of my mother calling me Miss Astor as a young girl when I let my, shall I say “spirited”, attitude surface.

So I took off on a little research voyage of my own.

 I learned that my grandmother and great-grandmother called their daughters that, too. See, I can’t help my “spunkiness”; it’s apparently engrained in my DNA. Shame on the stunning Linda Rowe for trying to temper that; who did she think she was?  Miss Astor?

 Then I found that my supposed namesake, Madeleine Force Astor, was a Titanic survivor. There were many Astor women from which to choose, but the consensus among some internet material was that Madeleine was the source of calling women “Miss Astor”.  

Oh goodie, I thought. Knowing the one hundredth anniversary was coming up, I tucked it all away in a first-class cabin in the Whatley passenger liner Natanic. Your sense of foreboding at this point is probably not off the mark.

Nineteen-year-old, American citizen, and five-months-pregnant Madeleine boarded Titanic in France with her millionaire husband John Jacob Astor IV. They were headed home to New York from a lengthy honeymoon abroad.

John, 47, and Madeleine, 19, had married the previous September amid scandal. He was one of the wealthiest men in the world and recently divorced. She was a young socialite who caught his eye.

To make a long story short, as a woman she was afforded a spot on a lifeboat while John had to stay behind. She became a wealthy young widow.

Following her life to her death in 1940, I didn’t find anything that was really deserving of what being called a Miss Astor actually turned out to be: snobbish and uppity . . . mainly because of being born and bred into more money than any of us could imagine.  And even more Astor women who could’ve potentially worn those labels surfaced. My ship was a-sinking. My idea didn’t hold water, either.

Then by sheer accident —no iceberg involved—I ran across Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, who would have been Madeleine’s mother in law had she not passed away in 1908.

This woman took the cake. She was THE New York socialite of her era. Wealthy beyond anything I can comprehend which is fine, really, but she came up with a list simply titled, “The Four Hundred”.

To be included in the list, one had to be basically as well off as her, and here’s the kicker: One could not be from “earned” money; one had to be from “old” or inherited money. If you weren’t on “the list”, why you were nothing and not fit to breathe the same air.

And, while there were other Astor ladies of distinction, she demanded to be called and/or referred to as, “The Mrs. Astor”.  As I took in more of her, I could think of a few other names, but since I’m in polite company . . .

So you see my column-ship sank.  Like a good captain though, I went down with it. And that, my friends, is something a Miss Astor would never do!

 © 2012 Natalie Whatley


Pillow shopping a pain in the neck

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

Sometimes things that are supposed to bring comfort to our lives become a real pain in the neck.

Take for example your personal bed pillow. Sounds trivial, but considering its job of ushering you into sweet slumber 365 times a year it becomes pretty important.

I’ve learned just how high a place mine holds in my life as I’ve awakened with neck pain for months now.

I’m a little slow sometimes and initially blamed my discomfort on the stresses of living under the same roof with three teenagers. I almost always harbor tension in my neck. But for the most part, my teen cherubs are good eggs and not nearly that constantly a pain in my neck.

 Now, I’m pretty certain the aged pillow is to blame. Easy enough to remedy, right? Wrong.

If you’ve ever read The Paradox of Choice by psychologist Barry Schwartz, you already know the problems I encountered.

I left stores –pillowless–and with a much bigger pain pulsing behind my eyes. I guess the silver lining there was I forgot about my neck briefly.

Anyway, ultra-soft, soft, medium-soft, firm, or semi-firm? Plain feathers, down–goose or duck? Fiberfill, synthetic, or whatever in the heck poly cluster is? Then there is foam–of the breed that will memorize my exact head.

As if that weren’t enough, do I need hypoallergenic, “cooling” (has some sort of strange beads that will forever stave off hot flashes, thank heavens I’m not there yet) cervical contour, wedge-shaped to raise my esophagus higher than my stomach?

I have a good sporting chance of not entirely slipping into insanity over this because I at least know what size. King, please.

Dr. Schwartz contends in the previously-mentioned book that too many choices leave us paralyzed in indecision. That was me.

I simply could not determine which one would be suitable. Upon returning home I did the worst thing imaginable and researched the whole fluffy mess on the Internet. And I just thought I had problems while standing in the stores.

If and when I do find my body’s perfect match, I’ll record the combination and store it in the safe-deposit box with all my other important papers because advertising has forced me to know replacements should be purchased every 12-18 months. 

What really ruffles my downy feathers is that I know in the 12-18 month replacement time the model I choose this go-round will be discontinued.

 At the very least I hope to have a general idea for the future. Or maybe I could buy several (hundred) spares and rent a storage unit . . . decisions, decisions.

I won’t tell you which leading columnist confided he has been sleeping on his current pillows for DECADES. His name might rhyme with “him”. I remembered a column from years ago wherein he described his own pillow woes. Thought he might have some sage advice. “I dug my old ones out of the trash.” Thanks, “him”.

As of this writing my noggin is still not getting rest as it lies painfully atop a member of my sleep team that is no longer offering me proper support. It doesn’t even try. I think it knows that being a pain in my neck pales in comparison to finding its replacement. Maybe it’s right, and it pains me to say that.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

I’m in rare form

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

I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to hear of my kids-are-back-in-school adventures in holding down the couch. And I’d be glad to tell you all about it, but my brain is caught in a continuous loop of regurgitating my name, address, phone number, relationship to my children, and emergency contact information.

For good measure I’ll throw in what I had for my last meal; that’s about the only thing I haven’t been asked by the schools to divulge. Of course I speak in jest.

For those of you who are years removed and have forgotten: allow me to remind you of all the forms that must be filled out at the start of each school year. I’d even wager that if you have been removed for some time, the paper has increased by at least double. Bureaucracy is not a beautiful thing.

I’m considering the launch of major reform in this area as I believe each piece of paper should be uniform, allowing me to have a stamp made whereby a single movement would replicate all the particulars that have remained constant since my children entered school over a decade ago.

I want to scream from my rooftop, NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

I know that’s probably odd in this day and age and definitely boring (it’s exciting being me), but seriously . . .  I know there is someone, sitting somewhere with a horned head, wearing a red body suit and holding a pitchfork, thinking up a new form where I can be asked for my specifics yet one more time  . . . in my personal handwriting.  With all the technology available . . . really?

With each piece of paper I watch my somewhat beautiful longhand degenerate to the point of where it appears I need to go back to second grade. I can’t help it. I try to complete everything legibly, it’s just that my brain goes on auto-drive, my mind wanders to something far less tedious, and before I know it I’m rambling incoherently via ink pen. And you thought I only did it here.

I’ve often wondered what the point even is in offering up the various phone numbers requested, “should they not be able to reach me” at the first one.

I can recall every occasion I was ever contacted at home by any of the schools, and few times did someone have to use the second line of defense: my cell number.

You see, school nurses and some teachers have this special radar that is highly tuned to my personal whereabouts. I only receive phone calls needing my immediate attention in two scenarios: 1) while showering; 2) on the rare occasion I leave the greater metropolis of the Baytown area during school hours.

The first scenario is the most popular and I’ve usually just lathered up my hair with an ample dollop of shampoo.  I gave up on the slippery dash to the phone and now the landline’s cordless device and cell phone remain perched in an area of special reverence as I attend to my hygiene.

The second: I may leave town twice in an entire school year—take a day and enjoy some shopping and dining in a different locale. Never fails.  Those are always the days my otherwise healthy cherubs fall to some unknown malady.

Oh well. I suppose they can call me any time. And when I answer, I’ll dutifully recite my name, rank and serial number . . . just don’t make me write it one more time, please.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Game over

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

I humbly stand before you all today to confess that I have a problem. An addiction. An obsession.  

Since the outdoors in these parts has been downright unbearable in recent months, this outdoorsy girl has taken to the comforts of air conditioning and embarked upon laziness of epic proportions. And when my body isn’t moving, my brain demands some at least semi-challenging activity.

Ninety-nine percent of television programming does not interest me, so I’m left with books and the computer. (Yes, there are other human beings living in my very close vicinity—in the same house even—but the situation at the most base level is that they have a life. Apparently I don’t.)

Of course there’s plenty of housework to do, but as I approach the 15th anniversary of stay-at-home motherhood I find myself severely burned out in that regard. I do some of what’s necessary, delegate out what I can’t bring myself to do, and nothing else.

Then I’m left with too much idle time. And what’s that saying about idle minds being the devil’s workshop? I’ve become the poster child.

It was a bad time for Lex, the handsome bespectacled and bow tied green worm to inch his way back into my life. I bade him farewell some years ago when we first met. I quickly realized we were spending far too much time together. Plus, our relationship became frustrating at best as I pushed for more and he held me at bay.

Lex is the star of Bookworm, which is a word-forming computer puzzle game. Wikipedia describes play like this: From a grid of available letters, players connect letters to form words. As words are formed, they are removed from the grid and the remaining letters collapse to fill the available space. As in Scrabble, players earn more points by creating longer words or words which use less common letters.

But it goes beyond that. Some of the tiles that fall through the grid are on fire. Those have to be used quickly because if they reach the bottom something truly horrific happens: The library burns down . . .  with Lex in it. Oh, and it’s “Game Over”, too.

Sounds innocent enough and like good, clean fun, but this non-addictive personality now understands what a bad habit can do.

I’ve gone through an addiction questionnaire and answered yes to all but one. And I could only answer that one —do I have it with me at all times?—in the negative because I’m still in the stone ages with my non-internet-connected flip phone. (That’s entirely by choice and given my current state it’s probably best I leave it that way.)

Words are a huge part of my life, akin to sustenance and air. I need them to survive. What’s a girl to do? I can’t quit them cold-turkey.

When I try to read, I catch myself looking at letters on the page and rearranging them into new words . . . totally missing out on the meaning of what’s before my eyes. I do the same with street signs, store names and even license plates. Worse yet, I’m playing in my sleep! Sweet dreams aren’t made of this.

So, I’m here today admitting that I am powerless over my addiction and that my life has become unmanageable because of it. Next week, I’ll work on coming to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore my sanity.  

Sorry, Lex, but “Game Over”.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

What really happens

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

NON-EDITOR’S NOTE: I have not taken a break from column writing since I started this craziness three-and-a-half years ago.  And because the recent heat has fried what few brain cells I have left, I decided a small hiatus was in order.  I’m handing the reins over to the capable hands of the most wonderful daughter to ever grace this planet. I’ll find some special way to properly thank her.

Hello, Dear Readers.  My name is Erin, Natalie’s wonderful daughter.

I asked to take over her column this week so she could have a “break.” But really I’m here to give you some details of what really happens at the Whatley residence, because my mom only tells her side.

First off I’d just like to say for the record that my mom really does need a break. She does a lot of stuff that the rest of us could easily do for ourselves. Then she drives us places and spends hard-earned money on things we’ll often use for three seconds and get bored.  Or at least how she tells it. You would think she would know me by now. I get bored after four seconds, not three.

So I guess that means that she hasn’t been paying attention to me for the last twelve years or so, but I can kind of understand why. You see she’s been busy taking care of the food chain in our house. We have a cat, a dog, and two hamsters.

The cat gets the hamster and the dog gets the cat right? Not at our house! In our house it goes the cat gets the hamsters and the dog. She’s been trying to train the cat not to abuse the dog, or eat the hamsters.

But that doesn’t take all of her time, so I’ve been watching to see what all of her fuss is about.

She wakes up. As in by herself without anyone yelling for her to get out of the bed and put her “feet on the floor”.

Puts on make-up

Eats breakfast. The woman needs her fiber.  And who else puts a scrambled egg in oatmeal? Gross.

Taps on the computer. Says she’s “writing”, but I’m thinking I should have seen a few completed novels by now.

I know she does the above because for a few days and before I got into stay-up-all-night and sleep-half-the-day summer mode I spied on her.

She attempts waking me. This isn’t fun for either of us. And by noon after she has visited me several times getting up is no longer a sweet request. 

She tries to entertain me.  She’s not good at it. Something about how I should know how to occupy myself. Not so sure I agree.

Late afternoon I catch her on the couch reading a book while eating Bon-Bons. I interrupt with an, “I’m bored.” She tells me to go clean my room. Doesn’t she understand it’s my mess and I’m comfortable in it?

Since I’m locked in my room after that, I really can’t say what happens. But at some point a meal that will go uneaten by me and my brothers will be cooked. Is it our fault that she prepares things that she knows no kid would ever want? (I believe that broccoli was never meant to be eaten by humans.) 

And of course that’s a slow day. Somewhere in all that the laundry, dishes, vacuuming and dusting gets done. She acts like it’s a full-time gig or something.

 It’s been fun giving her a break from her job, but I guess all great things must come to an end eventually, so I bid you farewell.  Maybe I’ll come back and tell some stories on her.

By: Erin Whatley

Spitting image of a southern girl

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

It’s watermelon season and that makes my mouth very happy.

On average, each American consumes 15 pounds of the juicy fruit annually. Only 15 pounds?  I can triple that without even picking up a fork.

I know you’d expect someone as dainty as myself to politely slide the seeds off the fruit and onto the plate prior to consumption and cut bite-sized pieces, but it doesn’t go down like that. More along the lines of a sumo wrestler bellying up to a stack of hot dogs in an eating contest.

And seed spitting . . . I’m a pro.

It’s every bit as attractive as you imagine. Feel free to add the sound effects you’d expect hear to your mental image.

Watermelon is known as a special kind of fruit among the folks who’ve made studying plants their life’s work. Who knew this food that easily makes my must-have list is—to give the proper botanical term—a “pepo”, which is a berry that has a thick rind and fruit? It’s only loosely considered a melon.

And you know I had to be kidding about the seeds above, because who can find a seeded melon anymore?

 I swallow those scrawny white ones. They don’t look like they could do much harm. And I never believed any of those goofy old tales about swallowing watermelon seeds anyway. I’m smarter than that. Plus, my stork subscription was canceled years ago.

Anyway, speaking of seeded melons, or the lack thereof, I wonder and worry that this favorite food of mine will become extinct. I suppose somewhere, somehow we’re still growing melons with seeds for reproductive purposes. If not, I stand here today sounding the alarm.

Now you know what kinds of high-order issues keep me awake at night.

Folks who have been around a good, long while tell me that since we started tinkering with genetics to remove those “pesky” black seeds the melons don’t taste as good.  Since the popularity of the seedless breed has steadily increased during the course of my lifetime—I do recall a more potent flavor—I think they’re probably right.

And all this melon talk reminds me: Many years ago and before I became fashion forward, I used to make an outward show of my love and appreciation for the fine produce with a watermelon outfit. You know, the kind once sold at craft shows . . . painted shirt that donned my upper half with a likeness of a big slice complete with the seeds AND matching watermelon earrings. Oh, and I bought the pants, too.

I thought I looked pretty darn cute in that get-up. Wore it proudly here around town and received many compliments. Maybe people were saying, “bless her heart” when I moved out of earshot.

But one fateful day as I was boarding a flight wearing my melon pride, a woman (I won’t call her a lady) —obviously not from the South— asked where I was from. After my reply she repugnantly looked down her nose and said, “I knew you were from the South” as she made a show of scanning up and down my attire. I was ashamed. Never wore the red, green, and black display again. It has been 20 years.

Funny because if I were to run into her again, today, I’d stand up a little taller, and answer where I was from a little louder. And before she had the chance to look down that snooty nose, with laser-sharp accuracy I’d spit a big black seed in her eye! Why, yes. I am from the South.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley

Feeling foggy

Author: natalie  //  Category: Baytown, Texas, It's all about me

I must make you all aware that my fellow columnist, the great Jim Finley, does not have the market cornered on mentioning our fine weatherpersons. I have listened to them going on and on about the fog we have experienced as of late. One night, it was proclaimed that we were in for a record fifth night of the soupy mix with the possibility of more beyond that. Queue the doomsday music.

Bill Watterson, cartoon genius behind the popular Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, once said, “The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and to inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!”  Oh boy. How true. It’s takes special skill to inflate weak ideas, and I’m almost a master. And I can obscure pure reasoning as well as inhibit clarity, thus the reason I wanted to talk about fog.

I’ve made no secret about being on a strange journey since exiting what I considered the most labor-intensive childrearing years. Of course I’m still on duty or maybe just on call with three teens, but my role has drastically changed and so have I.

I remember back in the day when I controlled almost all the details of their young lives. Now, I control very little. It’s terrifying and invigorating all at the same time. It’s also painful . . . in a rebirth kind of way. I’ve grown weary from the labor pains, and would like to see the new baby to be named “My Life” even though she promises to arrive with the requisite feedings and dirty diapers. I just thought I was through with that, but I’m battle trained through three tours. I will survive. 

Anyway, it’s probably a little vain speaking of this strange phenomenon, but the weather mimics me. And I have been in a fog of sorts. Funny thing about fog: While standing in it, things immediately surrounding look crystal clear, but try casting your vision farther than a few inches and  . . . an infinite wall of haze. Recall that I’m a planner – a certifiable (of the fit-to-be-declared-insane variety) “looker aheader”.  Frustrating!

Of course there are long spans when the fog burns off and I can see as far as my eyes will allow. However, it’s a cruel twist that I’m allowed vision only to have it severely clouded once again, paralyzing navigation.  That qualifies as fogbound.

The safest thing to do in such conditions is to pull off the road and wait for clarity or in the very least try using less light. What’s an impatient, shine-a-big-light-on-the-situation soul like me to do? I’m in no mood to stop or use the low beams.

Can I take some comfort from the weatherpersons who say our recent plentiful fog is rare, and won’t be seen again for a long time? I know what Jim Finley would say. Suppose I’d better learn to drive myself through it.

© 2011 Natalie Whatley