Tag Archives | words

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.”

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

In a word: hats

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. It’s also Lou Reed’s birthday. And, for that matter, Tom Wolfe’s birthday. (Thanks, Grace, for that last).  Somehow these guys all go together, don’t they? Word play, refusing to play by the rules, the dapper ensembles and occasional cross-dressing (at least in Lou’s youth).

I was thinking about Dr Seuss yesterday, actually, when I confronted my “to do” list for the day: bathroom cleaning, grocery shopping, dinner pondering.  Writing a blog post, working on my novel. Student papers read, lecture notes prepared. Emails about various volunteer projects at both boys’ schools. Yoga class.

When I type it out now, it doesn’t seem like that bad a list, right? But of course any of these things could conceivably take up the entire day, more or less–when “entire day” ends at 2:40, when boy #1 has to get picked up from school.

A long time ago, in the early childhood of this blog, I wrote a post about twinned patron saints of parenthood: Sisyphus and Wile E. Coyote.  When I look at my list from yesterday, what comes to mind is Bartholomew Cubbins and his five hundred hats.  Remember that story? How he was supposed to take his hat off in front of the king but every time he took off a hat, there was another one underneath?  That’s how I felt yesterday: wear the chef hat doing the shopping; then slap on the writer hat for a while and try to regain the momentum from last Tuesday; then toss the writer’s hat aside to put on the volunteer hat and figure out the auction project, the field trip chaperones, the yearbook; flip that hat across the room and put on the scullery maid hat to swab down the bathtub, the toilets, and the sinks, which are sort of en croute with toothpaste. (Is it wrong that I aspire to having someone else clean my bathrooms?)

All hats off, I consider the clock: is there time to dash across Union Square for a type-A yoga class, an hour of BE CALM RIGHT NOW? I figure I can make it, zoom into the class, GET CALM, zoom to pick up child #1, and then home.

I guess I should be grateful that I was channeling Bartholomew and his hats rather than the oobleck (although perhaps that is what’s crusted over on the bathroom sink).

How many hats do you wear?

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Continue Reading · on March 2, 2011 in Books, family, NaBloPoMo, Parenting

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