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Tag Archives | Cress Delahanty

Listicles: Ten Questions

This week – a holiday weekend in Canada (Happy Canada Day!)  and in the United States (Happy 4th!)  – Stasha has given us an easy list: ten questions.  If you’re looking for a friendly place to hang out, stop by the yeahwrite hangout grid: I’m guest hosting the front porch conversation over there this week, so come keep me company.

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, and find line 4. What is it? From Father’s Day, by Buzz Bissinger, a brilliant and brave account of a father’s cross-country trip with his son Zachary, who suffered brain damage at birth. It’s an amazing book: “In previous lives, we had obviously both appeared in Waiting for Godot. And perhaps written it.”

2. How many times a day do you say Hi?  Er…lately? Not very many because I spend most of the day inside staring at my computer. I say hello A LOT to my keyboard. Occasionally to Husband; sometimes to my children. There are a few “salaams” here and there, but not a lot of “hi.” Hmm.

3. Have you ever worn a uniform?  Black pants, white shirt: the uniform of waiters everywhere. Sometimes with an apron, sometimes with a stupid-ass bowtie, always with black shoes. A hideous pink-and-brown polyester apron over my white shirt when I worked behind the counter at a fudge store in Mackinac Island one summer. Thank god I was fired and the apron had to be returned. I thought about burning the apron but it was made of polyester and probably would’ve just melted into a pink vomiticious puddle.

4. What do you think about the most? kidshusbandwritingworkbookmotherfamilyweatherheatlosetenpounds

5. How many keys are on your keyring?  Three: house, office, Husband’s office. There is a separate ring with a car key and a house key, which Husband and I pass back and forth, depending on who is driving where on a given day.

6. What was the last thing you bought?  Some really lightweight trousers that zip off into shorts. Not my usual style but am getting ready for our Rather Significant Trip next week. More on that later.

7. Are you growing anything these days?  I have one small pot of basil on the windowsill. I wish I had a yard, or even a place to put some big pots with more herbs. I miss my big terrace in New York, where by this point in the summer, I would have killed several tomato plants, any number of herbs, and several flats worth of petunias. The morning glories thrived, and the sunroses. Everything else got crisped.

8. What is under your bed? Husband’s shoes. Dust. The upside of moving around the world? You shed a lot of crap, including most of what had lived (for decades) under the bed. Of course, much of that crap is in our storage facility, waiting for us to return. If there should be a fire in a storage facility in Westchester sometime late next year, it wasn’t me.

9. What is most important in life? Well, happiness. Health. Imagination. Work that matters. (And within “happiness”  I include those people who bring me joy: Husband, kids, family, friends.).  Tom Lux has a great poem about work and love, and loving work: “A Horatian Notion.”

10. What is the strangest word you used this week? Pilgarlic. (Liam asked me for some of my favorite words, and this one is near the top. Cress Delahanty, a book I adored when I was growing up, makes a fantastic list of words, and some of them I adopted as my own).


What would your answers be to the questions on this list?

Continue Reading · on July 2, 2012 in Books, Monday Listicle

Stuck On NaBloPoMo

I think there should be a twelve-step program for people who don’t know how to un-commit to a project once they’ve signed on. Say, for instance (hypothetically, of course) a person signs on to write a blog post every day for a month and then finds herself wondering what on earth she’s going to write about today and tries to tell herself “oh the hell with it, I’ll just have a glass of wine and watch Jon Stewart” but there’s that little nagging voice that says (hypothetically, again, of course) “quitter…”

So here I am: NaBloMoPo, I just can’t quit you.

Luckily, the marvelous mind behind NaBloPoMo offers prompts, for the faint of heart and exhausted, and today’s prompt is great: what’s your favorite word?

Isn’t that a great question?

I love words. When I was little and my mom would drag us off to church on Sundays, I would sit in the back seat and say “episcopalian, episcopalian, episcopalian.” The way it clicked off the tongue–similar to the way Humbert Humbert likes to say “Lolita, Lolita, Lolita”  Try it.  They feel really good in the mouth, don’t they?

There’s a long ago book from the 1940s, Cress Delahanty, by Jessamyn West, in which Cress–who is of course an aspiring writer–reads through words in the dictionary, writing down her favorites: pilgarlic, rapscallion,verdigris, vermilion.  Those are good words too, because they’re so unexpected.

I over-use the word fabulous (I live in New York, the word is practically a medical necessity) and I’m also too fond of the word fuck, which I find really pretty much always appropriate, unless I’m in class (and even then I’ve been known to drop the occasional f-bomb–mostly to see if my students are still awake. Usually they’re not.)

Words like nostril and mucilage and mutton make my toes curl in disgust, but I’m a fan of bog, and muck, and smush.

But the best word? My favorite word? I’m going to go with Henry James on this one: “summer afternoon, summer afternoon…the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

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Continue Reading · on March 9, 2011 in Books, NaBloPoMo, writing

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