Nate’s Notes: Momma’s Journal on Social Awkwardness

Please read this journal entry by momma.   It speaks for itself.

 “Well, we’re home from our quick adventure to the Portland area of Oregon.  The road trip provided some amazing opportunities to see not only family, but also the beauty of Fall, a couple ghost towns and cemeteries, and some great city architecture.  What fantastic photos to take!   Unfortunately, the trip also reminded me of my social awkwardness. 

 When your job and passion entails taking pictures, you really do look at landscapes and buildings with more than a passing glance.  I glimpse textures of wood, metal and brick from afar, and notice colors and objects framing shots constantly.  If I’m not careful to turn this quirk “off”, at the very least, it exhausts the people I’m around.  More likely, though, it makes me seem completely unhinged to onlookers.   For example, as we’re driving along, I now blurt out shots I notice of textures we need to capture.  This translates into random and interrupting announcements such as, “composite roofing!”, “rusty metal!”, “carved ice, carved ice!”, “cracked plaster!”, “distressed and weathered wood!”, “sand!”, “painted brick!”, “cracked concrete!”, “oooooo, cool utility cover!”, “hay!”, “peeling paint!“, “go baaaaack!”, and so on…and so on.   Now, if only in the company of my husband and baby, this is marginally acceptable, and earns me rolling eyes from Chad and what seems to be a blank, if not slightly disapproving, stare from baby Nate.  However, when out with a friend, or at the store, or walking downtown, these exclamations earn me judging glances, pursed lips, scowls dripping with disdain (or maybe fear), and more than a few head shakes.  If I’m really on a roll, I then try to explain what my narrating blurts mean to onlookers.  This usually turns into fragmented mumbling, my voice trailing off as I then just stop all talking, stare and blink at the person I’m trying to convince of my sanity.  Silence is met by more silence.  Then I audibly sigh, break eye contact, and move on. Sometimes I pretend someone is calling me from across the street or store.   No awkwardness there! My poor family…” 

It’s me, Nate, again.  Well, you read it!  See what I’m saying????!!!  It’s okay if you feel sorry for me…

Nate’s Notes: On Social Awkwardness

So, momma is always pointing out textures and trying to teach me how to use good descriptive language.  She puts my toys and stuffed animals in front of me and goes into detail with their colors, shapes, sizes, and materials.  She shows me stuff outside all the time.    I think it’s great, mostly because her eyes light up and she uses pretty words.  It makes me smile, which only encourages her to do it more.  Sometimes she even blurts out descriptions when we’re in public…that’s weird and awkward.  I don’t smile then.  I go into distract mode…but come on people!!!   Even my charms have a limit!

Anyway, I’m a little concerned that momma’s awkward quirks are spreading…to me.  Not cool.  This became clear the other day at a playgroup.    I was engaged in my vroom vroom cars and showing a little girl how tires work.  I simply pointed out to her the rubber treading and the cool pattern.  She soooo didn’t get it and shoved a Barbie in my face.  So I moved on to a nearby boy and tried to point out the fibers in the multicolored carpet.  I told him how beautiful the colors were, how intricate the pattern was formed by the lines of contrasting stitching.  I even rubbed by cheek on it to show him how soft it was.  He started hitting me.  Someone will need anger management classes in the future, and I don’t mean me!    I tried again with another boy across the room who was playing with a plastic house set.  I told him about the formed plastic and the pattern and texture created in the roof and grass.  He stared at me…blinked…and drooled a little.  And I don’t think it was excited drool.  What was wrong with these kids??  They clearly lacked the maturity to comprehend me!  So I tried with the woman by the door.  I pointed to the raindrops on the door window and the slight crack in the window above the door.  I told her how cool the water droplets were and that the broken glass had its own beauty.  She smiled at me.  Finally!!!  Someone got it!!   And then she scooped me up and said, “Oh sweet baby…you just babble away don’t you!?!  You have so much to say, I wish I knew what it was!  Sooo cute you are!” …And then she pinched my cheek and told me to go play with my friends.  Sigh.  Where were my momma and daddy?  They understand what I am talking about.  They’re cool like that.

Nate’s Notes: Numbers Revisited

We’re back from our extended field adventure.  Here are a few numbers from the trip:  5 days, 1500 miles, 31 hours in the car, 4 gas stops, 13.1 miles that momma ran in under 2 hours, 4 amazing cousins, 1307 pictures, and 21 new books.  There was also one lovey lost (for good this time), and one new one purchased.  I can’t talk about those right now though …just too hard.

Last time I wrote about numbers, I think I expressed my frustration about the focus of those numbers being more on pictures taken when it should be on the cereal puffs and bananas I’m fed or the number of books read to me.   Apparently my language isn’t clear enough to my momma.   Sure I love to count to 10 as much as the next guy.   But now we talk about thousands and thousands…and thousands.   And I’m dizzyingly lost.

Once again, my mom and the people she works with say things like, “Wahoo!!” and “Very Cool!” and “No stopping us!”about the number of pictures on a website.   Pictures people.  Pictures.   Here’s a picture for you…imagine a grown woman doing some awkward jumping and turning in an attempt to dance when she gets a message on her phone that says, “we’ve passed 14,000 original images and we’re rounding the corner to 15,000!!”   Yea.  Welcome to my world.

Nate’s Notes: Momma’s Journal Story About the Cemetery

I’m recovered from the cemetery panic, but momma might not be.   My growling scared her good!  I think she frightens easily though because someone gave her a stuffed, shark puppet for her birthday and she threw it across the room with alarm.  She’s so weird.   Anyway, I was practicing my walking skills and found her journal…open…again.   This explains why she seemed sad.

“Today I found perspective in a cemetery.   I’m not actually a fan of spending much time in random graveyards since I spook easily, but I had planned a stop at an old cemetery in southern Oregon. Cemeteries really are a great place to capture photos of carved stone, weathered wood, brick, metal, and any number of unique surprises.  This cemetery may or may not have been haunted, but it certainly was haunting.  Earlier this morning I had been griping about a sore knee, sleep deprivation (our one-year old is a horrible sleeper), and anxiety about too much to accomplish on my list.  I was just plain grumpy, stomping around, shooting photos.  And then I found a grave site from 1878 for a mother…and her ten children.  As I studied the dates on her towering, marble headstone and then on the scattered, skewed, miniature headstones, it was clear she had outlived all ten of those children, none of which had lived past nine years.  I closed my eyes, unable to imagine the despair and pain that cloaked her with each of those deaths.  She said goodbye to not just one baby, but ten.  Was it those goodbye’s and her sorrow that ended her life?   My breath caught in my throat, and my heart actually ached as I stood there in silence with my own baby on my back.  What an amazing gift.   Tears rolled down my cheek as I took a few more moments to cherish my baby, my family, my life, this moment.   When these opportunities for perspective come, you don’t rush them;  you embrace them, learn from them.   What sore knee?  What list?  What tired eyes?  All I felt was a grateful heart.”   

Nate’s Notes: A Time and a Place to Growl

Yippee!!!  We are on a road trip for an extended field adventure!! I get to spend 14 hours in a car seat as we drive to northern Oregon!!!   I’m still working on refining my sarcasm at this early stage in life, but hopefully you were able to pick up on some of my disapproval.  I’m bubbling over here folks.  Strapped into a car seat…for 14 hours…not able to practice my new walking moves…staring at the back of the car (yes, I’m still in a rear-facing car seat).  Oh joy. *Growl*.    Sure, we stop to stretch, eat, and, of course, take pictures.   The picture-taking part this time is cool with me since it gets me out the car.   We were at one of the stops, an old cemetery, when this little incident happened.

Daddy claims that cemeteries freak him out, so he stayed in the car.  Yeah, right.  I’m on to him.  I know he was just saying that so he could do some super hero stuff.   Anyway, momma got me set up on her back, grabbed her “toy”, and we were off.   Momma was jumpy, but soon became focused on the carved stones, the moss, lichen, cracks in some brick, and the super cool metal fences.  I have to admit, it was too quiet, and I found myself holding my breath looking around quickly.  I scanned the cemetery for anything comforting…I wish I had my lovey.  Momma was stopped at one stone, reading a story, and she seemed sad.  She was so distracted that she didn’t appear to hear what sounded like footsteps behind us.  I couldn’t see over my back and became quite alarmed, twisting and turning.  It was so scary, that I did the only thing I could think of…I growled. I growled Loudly.  Momma jumped and spun around, exclaiming, “Nathaniel!!  Don’t do that!   Your growling scared mommy so much I just about peed my pants!!”   And that’s a bad thing?   I pee my pants all day long!!  What is she trying to say?   I shook it off, ready to growl again at whatever was approaching.   Instead I smiled in relief and yelled, “Hiya!” to daddy, who was standing right there in front of us.  Whew.

Nate’s Notes: Warm Colors

I am pretty good on my primary colors: red, blue, yellow.  NOW, momma keeps talking about warm colors.  Whaat???!!   You can’t “feel” a color or its temperature!!   Sigh.  Just for kicks and giggles, I’ll humor her…again.    So, we went out for a hike with the camera, and stopped at almost every tree there was so she could show me the leaves.  We got really really close, and she had me touch the red leaves, the yellow leaves, the golden leaves and the orange leaves as she told me their colors before taking a gazillion photos of them.  She said that Fall was here and that means, “the most amazingly lovely, warm colors of leaves as they turn shades of red, golden, orange  and yellow. Aren’t they just gorgeous baby Nate?! See, these lovely leaves are warm colors.”   Pshaw.  Lovely?  Gorgeous?  She’s such a girl.  And besides, why does she insist on calling me baby boy?  Doesn’t she know I fall into the toddler category now?

Apparently she did such a good job of sharing her excitement because all I see now is red, orange and yellow leaves.  Some even look like a rainbow of reds and yellows!   Momma’s right.  They are pretty, and seem soft and warm like my stuffed giraffe, Wilson, and my lovey.  Ooooohhhh, I get it!  Not only do they appear soft and warm, they make me feel like I’m getting one of momma’s or daddy’s super hugs.  They seem so alive that I now find myself somewhat captivated by the trees as we are driving.  In fact, I catch myself labeling as we go by the passing trees and objects.  It goes something like this:  warm, warm, ooooo, nifty, cow, moo, warm, big truck, vroom vroom, *yawn*, warm, motorcycle, vroom vroom, pretty flower, ooooo, bird, cukaw cukaw, *yawn*, warm, warm…

You should really find the nearest car seat or stroller and get outside to see this!

Nate’s Notes: Inspired

Inspired.  Whatever THAT means!!  All I know is that my super hero dad keeps saying momma has inspired him.  What???!!!  Super heroes don’t need inspiration!!!    Now, not only does SHE take pictures whenever she can, she has turned HIM!!!   Now dad carries a camera everywhere and even turns the car around out of excitement over gauges, signs, nuts, bolts, fans…all the “guy stuff”, he says.  All I can do is raise my eyebrows, breathe heavily, and shake my head until I feel dizzy and forget that this has happened.   Of course, these actions have sparked a few discussions between them about grumpiness and odd or alarming behavior patterns on my part.  Real Sherlocks they are.

After daddy gets home from doing super hero stuff all day, he hugs me, tells me how much he missed me, plays with me for awhile…and then…wait for it…SHOWS MOM ALL THE PICTURES HE TOOK!!!  They sit there all excited about the images and the categories that are “filling up”.  They make plans for field adventures and add to their list of items to capture and places to go. Oh man.   I would be lying if I said some of these field adventures weren’t amazing and fun.  Next on the list of inspiring, errr….I mean, JUST places:  the beach, the zoo, a train depot, and an old abandoned concrete warehouse.  I guess you could call them inspiring.   Don’t repeat that to anyone!!!

Nate’s Notes: Mom’s Journal…Again

Just as I had suspected, the new toy for mom took us out on a field adventure.    It took her maybe 27 minutes to decide that is what we needed to do with the afternoon.   I was totally playing with my cars too when she whisked me away while flashing that goofy grin of hers.  Not cool.  Not cool.   We were going to a bunch of carved wooden poles when she got excited by a skate park and all the cool graffiti there.   Don’t we have enough graffiti shots??  Well, there were a few skater dudes there that stared at us for awhile, and then started talking to my mom.   Here’s what momma has to say about the encounter.

“Today I was so excited to take my new-to-me toy, a Canon 40 camera, and get some great shots for the site.  I had heard of some totem poles in the south part of town, so Nater Tater and I headed that way.  We were minutes away when I got sidetracked (surprise!!) by a mostly vacant skate park with pretty cool graffiti art.   I figured the kids in there would probably just ignore me and I’d ignore them as I snapped a few pictures.  However, as I entered, the kids, who looked a little rough around the edges, just stopped skating and stared as though I was trespassing.  My plan was to ignore, but Nate, ever the charmer, decided to engage them in baby talk.  At first they didn’t respond…but when I told them we didn’t mean to interrupt, we just wanted some photos of the great graffiti art, they flashed big smiles and started pointing out different tags.  There was so much pride in their voices.  More than that, there was so much respect.  Respect for me and Nate in the way they talked (they apologized for swearing), respect for the art and creativity so evident, and respect for other skaters who had died.   They told me the stories behind some of the tags, how long they had been skating at the park (they were just 15 and 17), and showed me the tags of skaters who had passed away.   Those tags are a memorial, and no one is allowed to tag over them, while some won’t even skate over them out of respect. 

I left the skate park humbled because those “punks” showed me more respect than I showed them.  I felt so grateful for the reminder of avoiding snap judgments and relating to people with respect.   Although I got great pictures of graffiti and later of some cool totem pole carving, it was the encounter at the skate park that made my day.”

Nate’s Notes: Toys

Speaking of toys…we really REALLY need to address the definition of a toy.   If I can’t play with it, can’t lick it, can’t bounce it, it doesn’t make noises…then momma needs to stop calling it a toy.  Seriously.

Yesterday, my mom was doing this weird movement she claims is dancing.  She was squeaking and yelling (not mumbling for a change), “It’s here!  It’s here!  My new toy is here!!  Wahoo!!”  And then she did more “dancing”.  I’m so glad my friends weren’t over because it was SO embarrassing.

Because she said “toy”, I was waiting for something pretty exciting to come out of the box.  So I watched with one of my new expressions of surprise and big eyes, ready to say, “Tada!”  when she pulled out the toy.   Only it was not a toy.  No way.  She carefully lifted this black rounded contraption-tool-thingy I’ve come to know as the picture-taker…the camera.  She kept calling it a Canon 40-D and saying it was lovely and amazing.  I’ll tell you what’s lovely and amazing… my push cars and bouncy balls.   Needless to say, while she lifted it, ooo-ed and aaa-ed, smiled big, jumped up and down, and generally made a fool of herself, I went down the checklist.   I KNOW I can’t touch it.  She and daddy have made that clear.  That doesn’t mean I don’t try, but now they’ve put the special tool-thingy up on a shelf…way out of my reach.  (Don’t worry, I’m working on my climbing skills and general core strength.  Ha Ha Ha!)  And, basically since I can’t touch it, that means I can’t lick it, bounce it or discover the noises it makes.   Epic fail as the definition a toy if you ask me.   Momma insists that it is really fun to play with though, and she DOES look really happy!  She looks so happy, that I find myself smiling back at her.  Of course, she mistakes this as my own excitement over said toy.   She says someday I’ll have my own.  Yea yea.  Yawn.

Well…momma’s new toy (I’m still not convinced it is a toy) can only mean one thing:  we’re off on another field adventure.