The Whitney Chronicles

The Whitney Chronicles

4.1 19
by Judy Baer

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Her mother, sister and friends (?) fear spinsterhood may be thirty-year-old Whitney Blake's fate. And while she doesn't believe she'll be weaving tablecloths, Whitney wonders if Mr. Right will ever arrive.

Deciding to be more proactive, Whitney starts a journal, stating her goals: "This month—Lose two pounds (sensibly). GET ORGANIZED. Start by

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Her mother, sister and friends (?) fear spinsterhood may be thirty-year-old Whitney Blake's fate. And while she doesn't believe she'll be weaving tablecloths, Whitney wonders if Mr. Right will ever arrive.

Deciding to be more proactive, Whitney starts a journal, stating her goals: "This month—Lose two pounds (sensibly). GET ORGANIZED. Start by cleaning closets. Have friends over for dinner. Pray more, obsess less."

It must be working—suddenly there are several men in Whitney's life. But are any of them marriage material, or is "fabulous, single, Christian man" an oxymoron?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Think of a sanitized Bridget Jones Diary or a scripture-filled Shopaholic and you have this latest fun but problematic foray into evangelical Christian chick lit. Just like Bridget, Whitney Blake is an overweight, still-single gal who writes journal entries about her two major goals: to lose weight and gain a man. Unlike Bridget, Whitney wants her man to be a Christian and finds the key to her weight loss at church. Chick-lit readers will appreciate all the components of a girl-friendly fantasy read: drop-dead gorgeous men, details about sumptuous meals and a clumsy, chubby girl's sudden apparent attractiveness. Quirky characters enliven the story, and flashes of genuine humor keep even the poignant segments about Whitney's friend Kim's cancer and depression from becoming too heavy. With 65 books to her credit, Baer knows how to spin a good tale, but her handling of Christian content will feel laid on with a trowel even to the most conservative readers (consider a comparison between a Christian putting on the armor of God and Whitney putting on her "armor" for a date: "The shoes were the strappiest I own, to represent the humble sandals of the Carpenter"). There's also a plethora of well-worn jokes and clich s. But when Baer's not preaching or relying on one-liners to be funny, the results are genuinely enjoyable. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Steeple Hill Books
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September 14

spin*ster: 1. A woman who spins. Alfred the Great in his will, called the female part of his family the spindle side. In Saxon times, it was believed that a woman wasn't ready to marry until she'd spun her own table, bed and body linens. Any maiden or any unmarried woman was considered a spinner, or spinster. 2. An unmarried woman; an old maid.

My name is Whitney Blake and not only is today my birthday, but it's also the day I outgrew my fat pants. My friend Kim Easton told me the most depressing day of her life was the day she realized she'd outgrown her maternity clothes and she wasn't even pregnant. I feel her pain.

Kim told me—and she had it from a good source, Oprah, maybe—that keeping a journal is an important part of knowing oneself. She says it will be especially good for me because, at thirty, I'm unmarried and currently stuck somewhere between death and puberty. It is also proof that I'm actually learning and maturing over the course of my life. I'm starting my journal today because I need proof that by this time next year I'll have learned or accomplished something. My goal is not to be a useless leech on the crust of the earth.

Turning the big three-oh was more of a shock than I'd expected. Last year I was in total denial about the inevitability of this birthday. I didn't reach a single goal I'd set for myself. "Lose ten pounds" turned into "lose fifteen."

"Exercise daily" became "exercise monthly." And "meet a nice Christian man" should have been "meet a breathing one."

Kim gave me this journal as a birthday gift. She had the words TheWhitney Chronicles printed in gold on the cover. She hopes that will intimidate meinto using it.

Well, here goes.

Goals for my thirtieth year:

Today: Begin a journal in which I will give a daily account of my life and how I am improving mentally, spiritually and physically and progressing toward my year-end goals. (That's pompous-sounding... Oh, well.)

This week: Give check to children's ministry so as not to be tempted to spend it like I did last month. (Note—give double this month.) Wax my legs. Bleach my teeth. Floss daily. Return black blouse (unneeded, as I already have three). Put myself on a budget. Follow it for a change. Be the perfect employee no matter what my boss, Harry, throws at me. Continue practice of adding words to my vocabulary, e.g., "spinster."

My mother is sure that if I don't get in gear soon, I'm in dire jeopardy of becoming one. Although I'm not worried about spending the rest of my life making tablecloths and bedding, I don't want to end up alone in a high-rise condominium brushing a crotchety Pekinese and wondering if, when my Prince Charming does come, I'll be able to find my bifocals and upper plate.

This month: Lose,,, four... okay, five pounds sensibly. Then, in three months, I can wear all the clothes in my closet again. Exercise. Do not let my mother drive me crazy (a particularly difficult project). Get organized. Start by cleaning closets. Quit falling for every organizing gadget on the market. No more hanging shoe racks, drawer dividers or file cabinets. And, under no circumstances, another set of plastic drawers on wheels. Have friends over for dinner. Read my Bible more. Pray more, obsess less.

This year: Lose fifteen pounds, make a career step (preferably upward). Learn how to change a tire. Find a new hairstyle. Quit thinking of self as chubby. Become less of a couch potato and more of a social butterf ly. Give up being an introvert. Become a raging extrovert. Meet and date a nice Christian man....

Clarification! Meet but do not date a nice Christian man—I do not need a man to make my life complete or to feel whole. Besides, Kim says diffidence is the best way to catch a guy anyway.

And, like my monthly goal, ditto on Bible reading and prayer.

This decade: See above, plus get married, have a baby and/or become a marketing consultant genius and get rich and famous. (If so, I can always marry after.) It might be fun to be a philanthropist instead of a parent for a few years. Besides, I am in no rush to meet a man (note yearly goals).

I weighed myself this morning and couldn't believe what I saw—even when I stood on the scale with my palms on the bathroom counter. Unless I learn to levi-tate, it is very clear that I have to go on a diet. I've heard the body clings harder to excess weight the older one gets. I just didn't think it would cling so hard so fast....

Anyway, I was already late for work by the time I discovered the waist-expansion issue (my euphemism for disgusting fat). Although being marketing coordinator at Innova Computer Solutions—ICS—allows me to dress casually, I doubt belly bloat oozing out of my zipper is allowed.

Rather than search my closet for a larger pair of pants (impossible anyway, because I refuse to buy a pair), I hooked the waistband together by looping a ponytail holder through the buttonhole and stretching it over the button (a trick I learned from Kim in the early days of her pregnancy). With a long shirt, tails out, and a jacket, I hoped no one would notice the bulge. I did, however, suddenly begin to wonder about the quality of the rubber used in hair bands. A few deep knee bends loosened the fabric, which had obviously shrunk in the wash, and I was on my way. I spent most of the day treading the fine line between mandatory shallow breathing and hyperventilation.

If only solving problems at work (work—is there a way to indicate a shudder on paper?) were so easy!

My boss, Harry Harrison, went mental on us today. He discovered an upcoming trade show at which it was imperative that Innova be represented with a booth and marketing people. Unfortunately the show is next week, and I usually need a lead time of two months to prepare. Harry didn't seem to care that he was the one who forgot to inform the marketing department of this vital trade show. Harry is a computer genius, but not the most organized man in the world. Frustrated, too, probably. I'd hate to be a balding man named Harry Harrison. But I digress....

The good news at work today was that I calculated that banging one's head against a wall uses at least 125 calories an hour. That meant I earned 500 extra calories for my birthday dinner.

In spite of my newfound caloric knowledge, I had to go to my parents' house for dinner. Mother's pork chops and onion gravy should be applied directly to my thighs, because that where they'll end up anyway. The mashed potatoes with a life raft of butter f loating in the center settled directly on the f lubber keeping my pants open. (I'm going to write a thank-you note to the rubber-band manufacturer tomorrow.) And the minimal calories in the "I-realize-angel-food-cake-isn't-your-favorite-but-I-know-you-are-dieting" birthday cake balanced the mounds of whipping cream covering it.

Mother, at a hundred and one pounds and a metabolism that won't quit, has never gotten the hang of dieting. A cruel trick of nature if ever there was one. No matter how thin I am, at five-eight, with broad shoulders, a potentially slim waist and size nine shoes, I'm always referred to in the family as "the big one." It's a wonder I'm as sane as I am.

I knew it was going to be a bad evening when Mom opened the door with her shirttails tied in a knot over her belly button and a tiny battery-operated fan in her hand. It wouldn't be so traumatic if menopause had crept up on her slowly, so Dad and I could grow accustomed to it over time. Instead, it was like a door f lying open and quickly slamming shut—one moment she was on one side of the door and the next she was on the other. If she'd had a choice, she would have picked the prize behind any other door. She has a good attitude toward this new phase of her life, however. She says the hair on her legs grows much more slowly now, and she doesn't have to shave so often.

"Come in, darling," she said, scraping damp hair away from her forehead. "Daddy is in the kitchen opening the windows. How can you stand to have those heavy clothes on in this weather?" She reached for my lightweight sweater, but I crossed my arms and hung on. The air conditioner was running full blast.

"Hi, Pumpkin." Daddy crossed the room to give me a hug. No matter how old I get, I'll always be his little girl.

"How are you?"

"Getting along, despite the fact my back has started going out more than I do."

"Quit with the old-age jokes, Frank. You're in the prime of life!" Mom gave him a glare that should have melted steel.

Daddy winked at me and headed for the table. He was, as he always said, "being a duck." That's how he and Mom had managed to be married all these years and still be happy. When I was growing up, every time my feelings were hurt, he'd tell me, "Be a duck, Whitney, let it roll off you like water rolls off a duck's back. Ducks have oil in their top feathers that keeps their under-feathers dry. You need to grow a few oily feathers. Don't let mean words or insensitive comments make you uncomfortable. Let them roll right off."

If I ever marry, I think that's one piece of advice that will come in very handy.

"Tell me, Whitney, have you heard from that nice young man from church?" Mother asked as she held an ice cube to her temple and stirred the gravy. It had a quarter-inch of shimmering grease on top.

That "nice young man" is forty-five if he's a day and very adept at evading eligible single women and their matchmaking mothers. If the church had a football team, he would be their halfback.

I performed my own punt, pass and kick maneuvers. "Cake looks great, Mom. So, Dad, how about those Vikings?"

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