Sunday, September 14, 2014

Coveting Another's...

In the last few months I have discovered what covet truly means. As a good and faithful Sunday School attendee all my childhood and youth I knew it was one of the top ten. I found it a bit silly; no one could want what someone else has so badly the want will send them to Hell.

I grew up.

I have worked in a profession that is also my passion for 23 years.

Then my friend Dave quit his job and retreated to a cabin in the Rocky Mountains to edit the novel he had written on a previous sabbatical.

I covet his experience.

The introvert me covets the isolation.

The exhausted me covets the time.

The stressed-out me covets the escape.

Every time I encounter an unexpected situation; every time the stress begins to build, my mind asks, “where’s my cabin?” Coyotes, bears, and hailstorms be damned - they’re easier to deal with than people. I ponder the question, “what would happen if I loaded the car and left?”

The answer is immediate: the student loan people will still track me down.

The fantasy ends that quickly, but the coveting does not. I have been working in my house lately to build my own cabin. The garage (too small for a car, I don’t know what the builders were thinking) is becoming a workshop for handiwork crafts. My office finally has enough shelving that I do not have piles of books covering most of the floor, and as soon as I refinish the old wooden desk I have, I will have my personal reading and writing space. I do what I can with what I have.

None of this is far removed from society - I still hear the planes arriving and departing. There are no wild creatures - there are roommates. It is not the high altitudes of Colorado, but when my mind asks for a cabin, I’ll have an answer and maybe the coveting will move to wanting. I’ll plan a vacation accordingly.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The "Sucks to Get Old" Drawer

Recently the time for a change came to the drawers that hold my regular/easy access grooming and personal care products. As much as I dreaded doing it, convenience dictated that I reorganize.

Moisturizer lost it’s place as one of the first products I sought while preparing for the day, and muscle rub took its spot.

The “I Feel Pretty” drawer became the “Sucks to Get Old” drawer.

Potions replaced lotions.

I don’t know if I am more upset that muscle ache relief became such a vital part of my life or that the skin care products upgraded to most of a shelf in my linen closet.

What I really dread is the day that the anti-achey stuff expands to the shelf in the linen closet.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Death and Birth of English

photo from Grammarly
A friend of mine recently posted the photo from Grammarly featuring the quote from Conan O’Brien. The most surprising thing about it is that it is almost a year old and still making the rounds. I have previously mentioned various words of the year as named by various groups. Each so-named word-of-the-year generates the usual pitiful wails from the language purists who remain convinced that Shakespeare, or Dickens, or (insert favorite English author) had the language in its perfect form and we are fools for changing it.

To those purists who have nothing better to do than grouse about the perversion of our language based on societal change I say, “Get over it! English ain't Latin." (Like it or not even spell check knows ain’t is a word.)

Some argue the words selected are too silly or represent a fad. Often they do. Not!* The truthiness** of the Occupy*** movement was challenged by some, but not if they had a subprime**** mortgage. The rise of words expressing the dynamic of society generate the energy that keeps English alive. Rather than killing the language, these words represent the continual birth found in any living language.

Truthfully, those decrying the various words of the year are not attacking the word so much as they disagree with the circumstances that promoted the word to prominence. That is not a question for the linguists who study trends in language but for the society that allowed “selfie” to become a thing. Why are people so preoccupied with taking photos of themselves? I would argue that in a world where everything is social, it’s a cry for attention, “Hey, look at me,” and when the world does not, the selfie offers the illusion of attention, “I’m looking at me.”

Maybe selfie is not so silly.

People, look beyond yourself.

No. Really. Pay attention to the background! No one wants to see your dirty underwear or any of the other embarrassing things captured in that moment of self-affirmation.

In November the various organizations that compile the lists of influential words will again offer their collections. At this point in the year I am at a loss to predict what words will be selected, but I know there will again be the usual uproar predicting the death of our diseased dialects. If it is the typical year, my voice will rise with the others - with the understanding that those cries do not draw us to the funeral parlor, but to the nursery, where we view the continuing birth of English.

*1992, **2005, ***2011, ****2007 words of the year. We may not use them as much, but we still know what they mean.