Aries: The Nighttime, Daytime, Multitasking, Take-Charge, Do-It-All Zodiac Sign

“Hi, my name is Jen M…”hellojen
My Aries brethren, in welcoming unison: “Hi, Jen.”
“…and I’m an Aries.”

Enter a deep sigh of relief. After all, acknowledging one has a problem is half the proverbial battle.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve said it to death: none of us are pure Sun signs. (Yes, that includes you.) We have Ascendants and Moons and planets — oh my! — all of which serve to modify our Sun in various ways, depending upon the respective zodiac signs by which each of those are ruled, their aspects to one another in the natal chart, and so on. But as my trusty Aquarian tree amigo likes to remind me, the Sun always shines, and for today at least, we’re gonna take a closer look at a Sun sign, save the effects of any other factors in the chart.

Why start with Aries? My reasons are twofold. Yes, I admit it: one reason is because I happen to have been born a Ram. But my second reason for beginning with Aries is because it also happens to be the first sign of the zodiac, so my bias is justified (as I keep telling myself. No worries, Bull folk: you’re second in line, so I’ll pick on y’all next. You’re welcome.)

ariestraitsFirst, let’s start with the basics of the sign of the Ram. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that if you know anything whatsoever about astrology, particularly Sun signs, you’re at least somewhat familiar with the traits of an Aries. If you are married to, friends with, in a relationship with, work with, gave birth to, were created by, or are an Aries, you undoubtedly have enough knowledge on this subject to write your own article (or horror story, as the case may be.) But I digress…

Aries is a fire sign. This statement should be self-explanatory, but just in case it’s got you scratching your head, asking, “what in fresh hell does that even mean?!”, allow me to briefly explain. There are four elements in astrology (fire, earth, air, and water), and each element holds sway over three signs. Each element brings with it its own qualities which it imparts into the Sun sign it governs. In the case of Aries’ ruler, fire, we see traits such as sudden bursts of energy, a quick temper (that, fortunately, subsides equally quickly), passion, and flashes of inspiration.

Aries is also a cardinal sign. There are three qualities associated with the zodiac signs: cardinal, mutable, and fixed. Each of these govern four signs, and Aries falls under the cardinal quality. This imparts additional traits including assertiveness and a stick-to-itiveness which means they’ll dig their heels in and persevere until they achieve their goals…and don’t even think about telling them they can’t do it. They will be more than happy to prove you wrong.

Some of the more common qualities associated with the sign of Aries include (but oh good lord, are certainly not limited to) the following:

  • impatience (oh, don’t I know it…)
  • jealousy — not necessarily as a result of low self-esteem, but more from a desire to be the center of attention
  • competitiveness…and I mean really, really competitive: Aries must be the best in everything they do
  • spontaneity and nearly-instantaneous decision-making
  • leadership; a need to be their own boss
  • extreme stubbornness and determination
  • complete, unshakable loyalty to friends and family
  • adventurous in the bedroom (you’ve been warned…)
  • a love of the outdoors and/or sports
  • generosity, sometimes to a fault (hint: just shut up and let Aries pick up the check. We want to.)
  • a tendency to get in a hurry and/or take unnecessary risks (drive too fast, jump out of perfectly good airplanes, etc.)skydiving
  • taking on many responsibilities at once
  • and way too many more to list here…

No, not every trait will apply across the board to every Aries on Earth (due to modifications of our Sun qualities by other aforementioned chart factors.) But stubborn Ram that I am, I assure you, these qualities will be present, to one degree or another, in just about every Aries with whom you cross paths.

Because I am an Aries (did I already mention that?), I’ll use my own personality traits as an example here (and try my damndest not to mention the modifying effects of my Pisces Ascendant and Aquarius Moon on my Aries Sun.) So here goes. If you are a fellow Ram or have one in your life, see if you can relate to some of my experiences. If so, I’d love it if you would share them in the comments section.(After all, we have to stick together!)

  • spongebob multitaskAt this time in my life, I am attending school (both online and on-campus) in pursuit of a degree in surgical technology and nursing by spring 2017. In addition to maintaining an A average, I answer astrological questions which my clients, as well as fellow astrologers, email to me, create and interpret natal charts for new clients, create flip-flops which are made-to-order (for more info/pics, shoot me an email at BornUnderABlondeSign@gmail.com), am a registered mystery shopper, produce video presentations for birthdays, anniversaries, memorial services, births, and just about any occasion imaginable (for info, please email me at the above address; to view some of my creations, visit my YouTube channel, to which there is a link at the top of this page), work as a publicist and editor for acclaimed up-and-coming author A.L. LaFleur and her amazing series of books which, of course, I highly recommend (you can follow her on Twitter and add her on Google+ as well, and be sure to check out her books on Amazon). All of this in addition to homework, daily workouts at Planet Fitness (for nearly two years now), traveling to Kansas on a semi-regular basis to help my lovely (if a bit disorganized) Libra mother-in-law and visit my awesome Sadge son and his amazing Leo fiancee, annual trips to West Virginia to visit my deceased ex-Cancer hubs’s family, and last but certainly not least, heading out to Arizona two to three times a year to visit my beautiful Scorpio daughter and her husband and family, including my nearly-8 year-old incredible Libra grandson and my
    My precious lil Pisces & Libra grandbabies

    My precious lil Pisces & Libra grandbabies

    relatively new, 7 month-old, perfectly gorgeous Pisces granddaughter. Whew! And I haven’t even mentioned gardening, spending time with my Cancer-Gemini cusp hubs, cooking, the daily household grind, and if you think for one second I’m going to miss an episode of anything involving Gordon Ramsay, you’re out of your mind. So yeah. Lotsa irons in the proverbial fire and endless multitasking for this Ram. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I thrive under pressure.

  • I have a terrible time letting anyone pick up a check when we are out on the town, be it a lunch date or in the club inhaling margaritas. However, because my video production “company” isn’t called Struggling Student Productions because it’s a catchy name, I’ve been able to relax a little bit with that lately…knowing that there will come a day when I will be able — and more than happy — to overspend on anyone who paid my way. My Aries pride will simply have it no other way.
  • lightningThere are few things I enjoy more than being outdoors (except for winter!) I love opening the windows on the first bright, warm spring day and letting the scents of budding life waft through my home, enjoying and chasing the severe storms/tornadoes which are a fact of life in my neck of the woods in the springtime. During the summer, my perfect day is spent poolside (or lakeside, feeling the indescribable bliss of the sun’s warmth on my skin in contrast to the cool water. And in autumn, I’m mesmerized by thefallleaves palette of nature’s earthy colors on the falling leaves, cool evenings snuggled up in a hoodie with a beer around a bonfire, and watching as my Sooners (almost) invariably annihilate whichever team in their conference against which they’re playing. BOOMER SOONER!boomersooner
  • My bucket list includes jumping out of that aforementioned perfectly good airplane, and the rumors are true: I have a lead foot. Damn Aries impatience…

Need I go on? Probably not.

But with all its foibles, the benefits of being born a Ram are pretty damn sweet. We’re tenacious, protective of those we love, the life of any party, and when one of us enters a room, you know it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.aries

In fact, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Some famous Aries include…

  • Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga

  • Emma Watson
  • Robert Downey, Jr.

    Robert Downey, Jr.

    Robert Downey, Jr.

  • Kourtney Kardashian
  • Peyton Manning
  • Jennifer Garner
  • Jim Parsons

    Jim Parsons

    Jim Parsons

  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Akon
  • Mike Henry
  • David Letterman

 

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Do It For Dani: A Gentle Soul Who Left Too Soon…

Danielle Marie Long October 8, 1984 - May 26, 2014

Danielle Marie Long
October 8, 1984 – May 26, 2014

So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time…
Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth it was worth all the while…
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life. ~ Green Day, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

July 2003: We didn’t like each other too much, to say the least.
Not terribly unusual, though: after I all, I was the estranged wife; she, the new (younger) girlfriend.

That’s when I first met Danielle, my estranged Cancer hubby’s first new girlfriend after our separation. And, being an Aries who needs to be Numero Uno with everyone (I know, totally unrealistic), I was not a happy camper.

Nevermind the fact that I was in a new relationship with my current Gemini/Cancer cusp man — the happiest relationship I had known in my life! Nevermind that he treated me like a princess; better than anyone before ever had.

No. All of the above was irrelevant. I had grown accustomed to my estranged Crab calling me umpteen times a day, tearfully begging me to give us “one more chance.” To let him come home. He cried, he pleaded, he told me he would do anything if we could just work things out. He promised to change, that “it’ll be different this time, you’ll see!” And it was the hardest thing in the world for me to have to repeatedly, yet gently, turn him down, only for him to plead with me all the more. I thought it would kill me. I sobbed as I apologized to him and explained that it was just too late. I also encouraged him to get out and meet someone new, reassuring him that he’d likely find someone so perfect for him that he would wonder how he had lived without her all this time.

Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for…

Dani

Dani

After four solid months of these pitiful, daily depressing pleas for a reconciliation, one morning in April 2003 my Crab called to announce he was about to head to work but just had one quick question for me: were we, or were we not going to work things out; was I going to take him back? I sighed and told him I was sorry, and although I would always love him, I had moved on. His voice didn’t break a bit as he accepted my response and informed me that was all he needed to know and would talk to me later.

Little did I know the reason behind that question.

He had met someone new.

Danielle — or Dani, as many knew her — was an 18 year-old coworker who had caught the attention of my ex-Crab; twelve years younger than me, eight years younger than him. Not only was I crushed that he had met someone new (which I had naively encouraged him to do in order to move on, silly me!), I felt old, ugly, and decrepit — she was twelve years younger than me! I didn’t want or need to know anything else about her: I didn’t like her. Not even a little bit. All I knew was her name, her age, and where she worked…and I hated her with every fiber of my being. We had it out via Yahoo! IM and email more than once. I wanted her to die. Literally. I wanted to kill myself and take her with me. I was beyond infuriated, filled with rage and hurt. After all, he was my husband (estranged or not) and regardless of the fact that I had moved on and was happier than ever before, he shouldn’t be healing: he should be pining over me for the remainder of his days! How dare he find happiness with someone other than me! Ridiculous, I know. A total double standard, I know. And I knew it then. I also didn’t care. I wanted to move on and be happy but I didn’t want my ex-Cancer to do the same!

But as the months passed and summer turned to autumn, the anger began to fade and Dani & I spent a lot of time on the phone talking over our differences, each making a genuine effort to empathize with the other. We acknowledged both of our roles in our ongoing dispute, identified ways to avoid problems, cleared the air, and agreed to be friends.

Dani & my young Taurus son, summer 2006, on a rollercoaster at Kennywood

Dani & my young Taurus son, summer 2006, on a rollercoaster at Kennywood

For the most part, from that day forward, Dani and I rarely had an issue. There were a few bumps in the road that cropped up from time to time, but for the most part it was a smooth ride, particularly as the years passed. My three children spent summers in West Virginia with my former Cancer hubby and Dani, a gentle Libra for whom conflict was truly uncomfortable. My Scorpio teenage daughter in particular became very close to her “stepmother” (which we referred to Dani as, although she and my ex-Crab never actually married), spending lots of time with her and because of only a seven year age difference between them, Dani was almost like a big sister to her as they shared secrets and hung out, scrapbooking, becoming fast friends. Over time as I came to know her better, I began to see in Dani the beautiful soul which had drawn my former husband to fall in love with her…and I told her so.

In late November 2004, Dani gave birth to a beautiful Sagittarius daughter, giving my progeny a new baby stepsister. And they adored the feisty little Archer as they continued spending summers in West Virginia with them, at least until 2008 when, sadly, the relationship between my former hubby and Dani came to an end.

My Taurus son with his lil Sadge stepsister, summer 2007

My Taurus son with his lil Sadge stepsister, summer 2007

My Sadge son with his Sadge stepsister, summer 2007

My Sadge son with his Sadge stepsister, summer 2007

My boys and Dani at Kennywood, summer 2006

My boys and Dani at Kennywood, summer 2006

Fast-forward, 2010: Dani married a new man and although everyone was moving on, including my ex-husband, my kiddos stayed in touch with her and with their stepsister as well, watching the ornery little Sadge grow like a weed via Facebook and occasional pictures Dani would send to the kids in a “thinking of you” card. Even Dani and I were Facebook friends, and I was truly glad for her and the new life she had begun. She was glowing in her wedding pictures; she radiated happiness. As Facebook “friends,” I “liked” and commented on the pictures she frequently posted of her new little family. She, in turn, regularly “liked” and commented on my photos and status updates. One time in particular, while I don’t recall the nature of the status I had posted, I remember vividly what Dani commented; not verbatim, but something to the effect of, “Jen, you told me something years ago that I never forgot: that every single person we cross paths with in this lifetime, no matter how brief,  is for a reason; maybe they have something to teach us or we have something to teach them, or both. I’ve never forgotten that and it’s changed the way I look at things.” I remembered having told her that at least five years prior, and it meant a lot to me that what I said had made a positive difference in her life.

Fast-forward again, October 2011: I lived in Hot Springs, Arkansas and was single. My former Crab hubby and I decided to attempt a reconciliation, nearly nine years after separating, and he relocated from West Virginia down to Arkansas and moved in with my teen Taurus son and me. Sensing a conflict of interest — nothing more — I went into my Facebook account and quietly unfriended Dani. I knew she and my newly-reunited Cancer husband were not on the best of terms, and I only wanted to be Switzerland, not caught in the middle of any disputes involving their then 7 year-old Sadge daughter.

Late January 2012: Realizing our reconciliation was ultimately not doable, my Crab returned to West Virginia on good terms. We remained close friends, and with the exception of one falling out soon after our separation, during which time we didn’t communicate for about three months, we talked and texted often. By this time, I had moved back to Oklahoma and my ex-Cancer expressed his desire to also move back to Oklahoma, as it represented a seven-year period of his life during which he had been truly happy. But his father had recently passed away, his sister was battling a severe chronic autoimmune disease, and he felt he couldn’t leave his stepmother to deal with it on her own, which kept him from following through with his wish to return to Oklahoma.

January 1, 2013: My former Cancer husband was killed in a single vehicle accident less than one mile from home, leaving behind a grief-stricken 8 year-old

My Cancer ex-hubby with his daughter, shortly before his untimely death...

My Cancer ex-hubby with his daughter, shortly before his untimely death…

daughter and Dani — to whom I could absolutely relate, as my three children’s father had passed away from cancer almost 12 years earlier to the day. I told Dani, “I wish I couldn’t say that I truly know how you feel…but I do.” (That was the second time I had experienced such a death.)

Spring 2013: Some very disturbing information came to light, and her seemingly idyllic life was turned upside down once again, prompting a devastated Dani to quickly divorced her husband of nearly three years. I couldn’t begin to imagine the emotional hell she was living, especially in addition to still grieving the loss of her 8 year-old daughter’s father only a few months earlier. I wanted to reach out to her, but wasn’t quite sure how to do it…I never did.

February 2014: Dani, who had found love again — even stating “I’m so glad I didn’t give up on love!” — was now pregnant with her second child and, as she put it, “ecstatic.” Her Facebook posts were once again full of joy and hope, as she was engaged to the father of her child, a man with whom she was deeply in love, looking forward to giving birth to another child in August, and proudly boasting about her soon-to-be stepson’s and her now-9 year-old daughter’s achievements in school, proclaiming “you always make Momma proud!” She stated on one occasion that she knew she wasn’t perfect, and she had been through a lot of trials and tribulations in her life, but overall she was “proud of the woman [she’d] grown to be.” Life was beautiful again, full of promise.

Dani & her fiance Mike, proud parents to be...

Dani & her fiance Mike, proud parents to be…

Then one day early in her second trimester, Dani collapsed.

Dani & her fiance, Mike

Dani & her fiance, Mike

She was subsequently diagnosed with advanced cardiac liposarcoma. A cancer so exceedingly rare that the Mayo Clinic sees, on average, one case per year. Let me repeat that: ONE case per YEAR. Dani underwent open-heart surgery to remove the tumor but the surgeons were unable to completely remove it. The prognosis was grim. If she underwent treatment immediately, she could survive from five months up to perhaps a year. But this would have required her to terminate her pregnancy, as her baby was not yet at a viable age in its development, and the recommended treatment Dani desperately needed would most certainly kill the developing fetus.

Instead, Dani opted to continue her pregnancy as long as possible so that her unborn child might survive, and she would begin treatment after giving birth.

Heart cancer survival rate is nearly 8.3 % in the early stages and in the medium and advanced stages it is nearly about 3% and 0.9 % respectively. When the patient reaches the third and the fourth stage, it becomes extremely difficult as the tumor has already damaged the surrounding areas and other parts of the body. If it is detected before the tumour reaches the spinal cord and the brain then heart cancer survival rate is around11 to 14%. Once the other parts of the body including the brain and the spinal cord are affected, the chances of survival from this tumor are less and hence the survival rate may be zero. ~ “What Is The Survival Rate For Heart Cancer?” http://www.cancer8.com

Tiny Noella Justine, the unborn child whom Dani was determined survive...even if she herself did not...

Tiny Noella Justine, the unborn child whom Dani was determined survive…even if she herself did not…

Sunday, May 18, 2014: With her condition rapidly deteriorating, Dani’s doctors made the decision to deliver the 28-week fetus, a 3 pound little girl she had already named Noella Justine. Thankfully, although Noella survived and is thriving, although she won’t be able to leave the NICU until around the time of her original August due date, Dani began to fade. She was placed on life support, occasionally breathing somewhat on her own, although sadly taking a general downward turn. She was not conscious, and had not yet held or seen her tiny baby girl…though at one point, little Noella was brought to her mother, lain across her chest, and her tiny hand reached up and touched her mother’s face. Whether or not Dani was conscious of this is unclear…

Sunday, May 25, 2014: As the cancer continued ravaging Dani’s weakened body, she began experiencing multiple organ failure. The decision was made to remove her from life support later that evening…and in an update I was told she was “breathing on her own and fighting.” I was racing northeast, desperately trying to get there, pleading with the Universe for a miracle; or at least to let me get to see her just one last time so that I could not only thank her for making such a positive impact in the lives of my three children, who still referred to her as their stepmother, but to also let her know that while I might have taught her something at one time, I had learned more about strength, grace, and perseverance in the wake of tragedy from her than she could possibly imagine.

Monday, May 26, 2014, Memorial Day, 4:30am EDT: Danielle Marie Long, age 29, passed peacefully into eternity, surrounded by family, friends, and her 9 year-old daughter…who had now tragically lost both of her parents in less than a year and a half.

I arrived in town at 9:30am EDT, where I literally ran from my truck down the driveway and up the sidewalk to the front door, tears streaming down my face, and into the arms of my late Cancer ex-husband’s sobbing stepmother.

Mother & daughter in happier times...

Mother & daughter in happier times…

When my mom was really sick just before she died, we asked her if she was ready to go to Heaven and be with Jesus. She [nodded her head yes.] And then she died. ~ as told to me by Dani’s 9 year-old daughter

During my week-long stay in Weirton with my late ex-husband’s family, I was blessed to be able to spend a great deal of time with my ex-Crab & Dani’s 9 year-old Sadge daughter. She became quite attached to me during my stay, and vice versa. I feel we actually helped each other. I never brought up anything about her mom, but when she initiated a conversation about Dani, I gave her my undivided attention: listening, commenting when appropriate, empathizing. And when she changed the topic, I followed her lead. This precious little fourth grader has experienced in the first nine years of life what many adults never experience in an entire lifetime.

My mom couldn’t talk but when I said ‘I love you,’ she started to cry. ~ Dani’s 9 year-old daughter

This precocious little Archer and I played games for hours: Simpsons’ Clue, Sorry!, Go Fish, War. She would say, “Jen, come here, I wanna tell you a secret!” and when I would bend down to her level, she cupped her little hands around my ear and whispered things such as “Y-O-U A-R-E T-H-E B-E-S-T,” “I ‘heart’ you,” “Will you stay up with me all night and play games?” and “Will you cuddle with me?” My heart melted, and of course I indulged her every request. When my 8 year-old fiery Leo niece, her cousin, came to stay the night with us, we even played “school.” I enjoyed and cherished every minute I got to spend with those little girls. It was therapeutic for all of us, in my opinion. I was fortunate enough to be able to somehow, albeit in a small way, repay Dani — as well as my late ex-husband — for being there for my three kids for so many years, and Dani’s daughter, aware that I “used to be married to her dad before he met her mom,” perhaps viewed me as a parental figure that wasn’t an aunt, uncle, or grandparent…and she seemed to desperately crave that. She cried her eyes out Saturday night when she knew I had to leave the next morning, and asked if she could cuddle with me and sleep with me, which she did. She was possessive of me as well: when my sister in-law or mother in-law expressed a desire to spend some time with me talking, this little girl angrily accused them of being “Jen hogs!” and demanded that they “stop hogging Jen!”

The girlies havin' a whipped cream fight after eating their ice cream sundaes

The girlies havin’ a whipped cream fight after eating their ice cream sundaes

Hanging with the girlies at a local frozen yogurt shop...

Hanging with the girlies at a local frozen yogurt shop…

The Aries author and a precious 9 year-old Sadge being silly, finding comfort in one another...

The Aries author and a precious 9 year-old Sadge being silly, finding comfort in one another…

At one point, I called my Scorpio daughter and Taurus son in Arizona so that she could talk to her “sissy” and one of her brothers, which she was thrilled about. When her Leo cousin asked who she was talking to, this little Archer proudly smiled and told her, “My brother and sissy!” It seemed to give her a sense of normalcy; a connection to a time when things were as they should be; when both of her parents were alive and well.

It did the same for me as well.

At this point, I would love to move up to West Virginia not only to be closer to the girlies, but to the rest of the family as well. My current Gemini-Cancer cusp man isn’t against it; but the Gemini in him (sigh…) means he must take the time to analyze every possible aspect of such a move, where my spontaneous, let’s-do-it-right-now! Aries nature would already be there were it up to me alone. I feel a duty, a call, a need and a desire to be around for Dani and my ex-husband’s daughter. I truly believe she found comfort in being around me and that she needs me…because she told me she did.

And strange as it might seem, I feel like I need her just as much.

The bracelet which hasn't left my wrist since it was given to me...

The bracelet which hasn’t left my wrist since it was given to me…

T-shirt from a benefit held for Dani before her death, which I wear with pride, honored to have known such a beautiful soul in my lifetime...

T-shirt from a benefit held for Dani before her death, which I wear with pride, honored to have known such a beautiful soul in my lifetime…

Where The Wicked Winds Blow: The El Reno Tornado

The Aries is a peculiar animal. I should know; I am one. Challenge-seeking and adrenaline rush-loving, we Rams enjoy few things more than, when told something isn’t possible or that some goal is unattainable, setting out with enormous energy to prove you wrong. The quickest way to spur me into action is to tell me I can’t do something. Oh yeah? Hide ‘n watch while I forge ahead with unrelenting determination to make you eat those words. Speaking as an Aries female, I feel an overwhelming drive to be numero uno at anything and everything I undertake. Well-versed in the art of one-upsmanship, an Arien never settles for being second best…at anything or to anyone.

Ram that I am, I find adrenaline rushes and extreme adventure quite seductive. One way I discovered, years ago, that I could indulge my craving for both was through storm chasing.

Birth of a Tornadic Supercell, near El Reno, OK, May 31, 2013

Birth of a Tornadic Supercell, near El Reno, OK, May 31, 2013

I was born and raised in the very heart of Tornado Alley: Oklahoma City. I lived in the Oklahoma City area until 2003 when I relocated 160 miles north to a suburb of Wichita, Kansas. Both areas are no stranger to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes; they are simply a fact of life in these parts. As a small child, I was terrified of storms. Some of my earliest memories involve a hypervigilant, overreactive Taurus mother whisking me out of bed as a violent thunderstorm raged outside, driving us in a panic to my grandmother’s house a few miles away to seek shelter in her basement. More or less, I learned by example to be afraid of storms. But as I grew older, I gradually became a little less frightened and a little more fascinated by nature’s fury. Somehow, I came to the realization at a relatively young age that things were much less scary when the bright light of knowledge and understanding was shone upon them. By educating myself on the science of thunderstorms and tornadoes, I was illuminating my fear with a virtual spotlight. No longer was I afraid; on the contrary, I quickly grew to love extreme weather and thunderstorms, and I was genuinely interested in and intrigued by what makes tornadoes tick.

imagesCAG70KTT

Reed Timmer

The notion of storm chasing first came to my attention on May 3, 1999 when an F-5 tornado tore through an area on the southern outskirts of Oklahoma City, leaving 44 people dead and billions of dollars in damage in its aftermath. Mouth agape, I watched the live coverage in both awe and horror as this beast roared closer and closer. In my 27 years of living in a city that regularly sees tornadoes each spring, I had never before seen a tornado of that magnitude anywhere near me. Sitting in my living room with my three offspring and my then-hubby, a Cancer who hailed from the northern West Virginia panhandle and was completely unaccustomed to experiencing storms that could kill a person if they weren’t below ground, we watched on live TV as the mile-wide monster barreled in our general direction. I marveled at the storm chasers (including a 19 year-old OU meteorology student by the name of Reed “BACKUP!!!!!” Timmer) as they streamed live coverage from out in the field, and I became acutely aware that they were probably safer than my family and I were, parked at home, practically waiting to be taken out by this killer tornado. Horrified, yet mesmerized as I watched it churn along, destroying everything in its path, I decided I would love nothing more than to be out in the field with those guys.

Beginning in the spring of 2001, I started dabbling in what might be considered amateur quasi-storm chasing. Bear in mind, if you will, at that time I lived in Oklahoma City so my “chases” usually consisted of local severe thunderstorms, of which we never lack. Having no mobile radar and nothing whatsoever to go on visually, I was flying blind –almost– as I drove in the storm’s general direction with my only guidance being in the form of a radio simulcast of a local TV meteorologist giving a play by play of Doppler radar-indicated rotation along with spotter information. In the years that followed, I managed to capture hundreds of photographs of beautiful storm structures and massive supercells, with the occasional funnel cloud. However, I’ve always stopped short of officially labeling myself a “storm chaser,” as Real Life often prevents me from chasing anything. After all, Ma Nature doesn’t really care if you have to work or don’t have the extra gas money to chase on the day she decides to drop a tornado. I would, and still do, consider myself more of a severe weather enthusiast and, because of not always being in a position to actively chase, be it due to lack of funds, the target area being too far away, work or other schedule/timing conflict, the chasing I do manage to get under my belt would still qualify as amateur, although I’ve been at it for 12 years, have access to mobile radar via my laptop, and am moderately knowledgeable in the science itself.

During the afternoon and evening of Thursday, May 30, 2013 I embarked on an impromptu chase when a dear Aquarian chaser friend and his Aries girlfriend shot me a text saying they would be coming down from Kansas thru Oklahoma City within a few hours to hopefully position themselves further south in order to intercept a tornado. A typical spring day in Oklahoma, we had already seen quite a few supercells go on to spawn tornadoes that afternoon and my Water Bearer buddy was hell-bent on bagging a tornado. He invited me to join them in their quest, which I excitedly did. While not a complete bust, we didn’t intercept anything significant, although we did manage to catch a few short-lived tornadoes and capture some jaw-dropping video and storm images.

Supercell w/rotating wall cloud W of Turner Falls, Davis, OK 05/30/2013

Supercell w/rotating wall cloud W of Turner Falls, Davis, OK 05/30/2013

As the evening began winding down, we headed back north toward Oklahoma City, discussing what the next day might bring in terms of severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) was forecasting a pretty significant risk for severe weather which could possibly culminate in large, violent, long-track tornadoes. It appeared all hell was going to break loose very near my home in Yukon, a western suburb of Oklahoma City. After running it by my Cancer-cusp better half, who anxiously awaited me at home, we invited my friends to spend the night at our house; that way, instead of driving another three and a half hours back up to their home in southwestern Kansas, and then back again the following day another three and a half hours to chase, they could get some well-needed rest and wake up in the target area. They gratefully accepted.

Friday, May 31, 2013, 12:30pm: we must have been more exhausted than we realized to wake up at lunchtime! Over a late breakfast, we studied the latest projections from the SPC convective outlooks, and we easily chose our initial target area: El Reno, Oklahoma, just 10 miles west of Yukon. CAPE (convective available potential energy) values were predicted to reach over 5,000 (meaning an extremely unstable atmosphere) and while we didn’t know exactly how things were going to go down, we knew they were going to go down…and whatever went down would be huge. Scores of storm chasers from all over the country and every genre — amateurs, thrill-seekers, researchers, news crews — had descended upon this same target area. At 3:30pm, a PDS (particularly dangerous situation) tornado watch was issued by the SPC, indicating that any tornadoes that developed could be long-track, destructive ones. PDS tornado watches aren’t issued very often so when they are, it’s imperative to pay close attention to the weather.

We arrived in El Reno early in the 4:00 hour, stopping at Braum’s to grab some ice cream while we kept a constant watch on both radar and the deceptively calm, gorgeous azure sky. Within less than half an hour, we watched as evidence of storm initiation began and breathtaking cumulonimbi rapidly climbed higher and higher into the atmosphere, like the lid being removed from a pot of boiling water; the clouds themselves seemed to be boiling as they ascended explosively. When the action began to be detectable on radar, my Aquarian amigo announced, “Time to move.” We had three rapidly developing supercells to choose from and our fearless Water Bearing leader ultimately made the decision to pursue one to our WSW. The adrenaline level in the car was skyrocketing in tandem with the storm development as we raced in anticipation toward the southwest to get front-row seats to what, quite possibly, could become a significant, perhaps even historic and (heaven forbid) deadly severe weather event.

We couldn’t have been more right.

timsamarasStorms now initiating south of Watonga along triple point. Dangerous day ahead for OK–stay weather savvy!”  ~ Tim Samaras, in his final post on Twitter, shortly before his death, 05/31/2013

Within a half hour, after some tricky navigation thru blinding rain, fierce winds, and baseball-size hail, we caught up to the monster on a rural, gravel county road, and watched incredulously as we witnessed the birth of a killer, not more than one hundred yards away in an adjacent field to our southeast. Three separate vortices danced around one another in a deadly waltz, intertwining gracefully before ultimately coming together to form a single, massive, dark gray wedge, swirling dirt up, into, and around the vortex. It was eerily quiet, with the exception of the sound of a distant, whistling wind which was so soft, it almost seemed as if it could’ve been harmless. As the tornado slowly churned further east and then northeast thru the countryside, we followed closely behind, documenting its progression with our video cameras, stopping our pursuit when we began encountering unfortunate homes which had been left heavily damaged or destroyed in the twister’s wake.

While his girlfriend and I filmed the extensive destruction, my Water Bearer buddy frantically raced up driveways, almost as if playing hopscotch as he jumped to avoid downed power lines and debris, made his way through enormous piles of rubble which families once called home, climbing over piles of bricks, around walls that no longer stood, tossing furniture aside, calling out, trying desperately to find anyone who might be trapped beneath the remains. Fortunately, there was only one home where he did find someone: a mother and daughter who had ridden out the storm in an underground shelter and were very much alive and uninjured. While searching the debris of another home about a half mile away, the elderly homeowner arrived on the scene via a sheriff’s deputy. He assured us there had been no one at home when the tornado leveled his house, and he expressed his gratitude that we had stopped and searched. I asked him if it was his house.

Heavy damage in the front yard of the first house we searched minutes after the tornado hit

Heavy damage in the front yard of the first house we searched minutes after the tornado hit

“Yeah, it’s…well, it used to be my house,” the silver-haired gentleman chuckled as he stood at the foot of the driveway, taking in the devastation. “But that’s okay. We’re alive.”

I wonder if he was an Aries. We Rams are known for our unrelenting optimism…

A mother & daughter were found safe in their home's storm shelter, S of El Reno, OK, 05/31/2013. Shortly after this picture was taken, the south side of the home began to collapse; however, no one was injured.

A mother & daughter were found safe in their home’s storm shelter, S of El Reno, OK, 05/31/2013. Shortly after this picture was taken, the south side of the home began to collapse; however, no one was injured.

The tornado continued to plow toward the northeast as we went house to house searching for potential victims. Over the car’s radio, I heard a local meteorologist urgently announce that the next projected target on the tornado’s radar was none other than my own city of Yukon. A tornado emergency was declared, as it had left major damage in its wake and was estimated to be around a mile wide as it bore down on a densely populated area. If this beast continued on its current path, it was possible, if not probable, that a large portion of the city would be wiped away…taking my home with it.

Fortunately, the tornado dissipated before that could happen, leaving Yukon –along with my own home– virtually untouched, save for a few tree limbs in the streets and sporadic power outages as a result of high winds.

By the time the tornado dissipated into the clouds as if it had never existed at all, it had enjoyed a life span of 40 minutes, produced winds of a nearly-unprecedented 296 mph across what has since been estimated to be a damage path 2.6 miles wide and 16.2 miles long, claiming at least twenty lives  (as of the date & time of this publication) including those of seven infants or children, and three veteran storm chasers who were not daredevils or thrill-seekers but seasoned meteorologists; scientists whose mission that fateful day was to place probes into the tornado’s path in order to glean data which would serve –and has previously served– to help unravel the mystery behind tornadoes, ultimately increasing warning times and saving countless lives.

Remembering Team TWISTEX: Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, Carl Young, 05/31/2013, El Reno, Oklahoma

Remembering Team TWISTEX: Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, Carl Young, 05/31/2013, El Reno, Oklahoma

Mother Nature’s cryptic message on May 31st was, that at the end of the day, she is the one who is in charge. The mere fact that the tornado’s unpredictable movement was able to surprise three extensively experienced storm chasers/scientists only underscores the desperate need for the very research they were attempting to do that day, and to remind us just how much we still don’t know about severe weather and meteorology in general.

The tragic fate met by those three men could have just as easily been met by any one of us who were chasing that tornado. This realization is quite humbling to say the least, and certainly gives me pause.

So will I continue to chase? Absolutely. Storms are one of my greatest passions. Although my Aquarius – Aries chase buddies, nor I, are scientists by any stretch of the imagination, we still make a difference, whether it’s by calling in storm reports to the NWS or being in a right place/right time situation that allows us, in many instances almost immediately after a tornado has struck, to search damaged structures for possible victims in need of help.

Besides, lest you forget, I am an Aries, after all. Go ahead. Just try and stop me.

Living On The Edge: Understanding the Cusp

“‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold, you’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out, you’re up then you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right, it’s black and it’s white
We fight, we break up, we kiss, we make up
You, you don’t really want to stay, no
You, but you don’t really want to go…” ~ Katy Perry, “Hot and Cold”

For eight years, I was in a live-in relationship with the love of my life: an amazing Gemini man. Actually, I considered myself pretty darn lucky: he was born on June 21st, on the cusp of Cancer. Every ephemeris I had ever consulted, which admittedly wasn’t a staggering number, reassured me that my better half was indeed a Gemini. Good thing: my fiery Aries Sun is quite compatible with airy Gemini, but not so much with its watery  Cancer successor. And boy howdy, we got along beautifully, particularly – I believe – because my own natal chart is weighted in air which, among other positive similarities, means we’re both communicative. In fact, my cusp often chuckled that if there was a talking event in the Olympics, the two of us would bring home the gold.

Upon further investigation several months relationship postmortem, I uncovered the cold hard truth: he is, in fact, a Cancer. Turns out, on June 21st in his birth year, the Sun entered Cancer exactly four hours and twenty minutes before my eventual love made his appearance in the world.

Shit. My whole life has been a lie.

But seriously folks, although my oft-referred to “Cancer cusp” man is technically a crab, I’m having a difficult time grasping that fact (so is he.) While it could simply be that I so desperately want him to be a Gemini, the proverbial shoe just doesn’t quite fit. A wise Aquarian tree hippie friend of mine likes to remind me that “the Sun always shines.”  And while he’s not wrong about that, I take exception to this particular case. While he does possess a handful of notable Cancerian traits (i.e., devotion to home and family, a need to be in a relationship, a fondness for cooking, etc), he has far more twin qualities: extremely communicative, freedom-loving, active, a tendency toward aloofness, just to name a few. He certainly isn’t as jealous and possessive as your run-of-the-mill crab, which I had always attributed to the fact that he wasn’t a Cancer in the first place, but a Gemini.  So… what now?  I wonder aloud, looking upward, arms outreached in desperation.

When one is born on a cusp (which is generally defined as a five-day period on either side of the beginning/end of a Sun sign), they are usually influenced by the signs on either side of the cusp, with an emphasis on the sign in which their Sun actually is (hence, “the Sun always shines.”) Perhaps any jealous or possessive streak is simply modified by the Gemini cusp influence. In any event, since my Cancer cusp and I began dating again nearly a month ago, I have realized for the first time that the distinct “twin” personalities with which I’ve been familiar for nearly twenty years of knowing him are actually a Gemini personality and a Cancer personality intermingled. Ah…veddy interesting, yes?

Allow me to provide an example. In our numerous in-person chats, texts, and lengthy phone conversations, my Cancer cusp will often make Gemini-esque comments along the lines of “we’re not back together,” “I don’t want the whole ‘relationship’ thing,” etc. However, in these very same chats, texts, and phone calls he frequently makes Cancerian statements such as “I would love to go to sleep next to you and wake up next to you,” “how do you feel about us becoming exclusive?”(I excitedly jumped on that with an emphatic “yes!”), and “I can’t wait to be with you again.”

Another example: we decided to book a hotel room for the weekend so we could have our own little getaway, a “staycation” as it were. We made sure it was in an area near some good restaurants or other places we might want to check out. I reserved two nights, Friday and Saturday, but then my Cancer cusp remembered he had plans to see his daughter, who lives with her mother about 75 miles north of the city, so I canceled the second night. No sweat. Well, as luck would have it, his daughter bailed on their plans, leaving him free on Saturday after all. Did he ask me to go ahead and reserve Saturday night again? Nope. He told me, “Well, that works out, I guess; this way, I can still do my weekend thing with the cousins.” See, there it is: the freedom-loving Gemini, pulling him to do his own thing.

So what is a hopelessly devoted, impatient Aries chick to do? Which is it?

“I keep your picture upon the wall
It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there
So don’t you ask me to give it back
I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because…
Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time…” ~ 10cc, “I’m Not In Love”

Elementary, my dear follower: it’s both. As I force myself to step back from the situation and view it with as unbiased an eye as I can muster, it’s evident what he’s doing (and in all likelihood isn’t even conscious of it). His sentimental Cancer Sun is drawing him toward me, reveling in that feeling of familiarity, security, and commitment. But the minute his Gemini influence catches wind of this, it struggles to reel him back over to its noncommittal side of the cusp. Because the Sun always shines, however, his Cancer Sun inevitably wins the battle in the ongoing war with his emotions. This is even more so because his Venus is also in Cancer which, in a man’s chart, indicates not only the type of romantic partner to whom he is attracted, but also dictates how he approaches love and relationships: like a commitment-loving Cancer.

Bearing this in mind, I have the ability to better understand the emotional tug-of-war going on inside his Cancer cusp head. It allows me to be less confused by his mixed signals and statements, instead being more patient (no easy feat for an Aries). And this gives me an edge that it’s a shame more people don’t take advantage of: the knowledge of what makes their partner tick. Skeptics and naysayers say what you will, but have you ever made an effort to try it for yourself? If not, don’t knock it until you do. An individual’s natal chart is an invaluable tool to have on hand when you are trying to gain clarity into someone’s motivations and inner workings. It serves as an owner’s manual of sorts, and it’s available at your disposal. Many would say I must be insane to say that with a straight face, let alone actually do it. But folks who could benefit immensely from studying a loved one’s natal chart, yet don’t? I think that’s crazy.

In the meantime, I am having the time of my life becoming reacquainted with my Cancer cusp. I cherish every minute I am fortunate enough to be able to spend with both of them.

“I never dreamed that I’d meet somebody like you
I never dreamed that I’d lose somebody like you
No, I don’t wanna fall in love
No, I don’t wanna fall in love …with you
What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way
What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you
What a wicked thing to say, you never felt this way
What a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you
And I wanna fall in love
No, I wanna fall in love…with you.” ~ Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game”