Friday, May 31, 2013

I Know That You Know What I Meant - I Think

Photo by
Not too long ago one of my Facebook friends posted an article that struck my fancy and I immediately had to share it. The article is 38 Wonderful Foreign Words. It is a list of wonderful words that foreign languages have that we lack in English. Not to disparage the first 36 words but by far my favorite are the last 2 on the list. These are 2 Yiddish words - schlemiel and schlimazel. (Yes, we all know the song.) Basically a schlemiel is someone who spills his coffee and a schlimazel is the person on whom it is spilled. In my case, I am both as I will spill my coffee (and everything else) on myself.

Aside from the humor of these words, I like the interconnection of them. You can be a schlemiel by your actions. You do the spilling. But in order to be a schlimazel, that requires the action of someone else. They do it to you. I also like that either of these conditions can be permanent - he's always been clumsy, or bad things just seem to happen to him all the time. They can also be temporary like having a bad day.

Sam Kinison
Which brings me to hinting. (What?) My husband is not good at picking up on hints. This is good because I'm not good at making them. We solved our gift-giving problem by creating "I'd like something on this list" lists. It works for us. We're happy. I am a strong believer that if you have something to say, just say it.

Actually, I started thinking about 2 connected words we have in English - imply and infer. See, if I hint at something - "I'm sure tired of cooking dinner and cleaning up" - I'm implying that I'd like to go out to dinner. What has to happen next is the person I'm talking to has to infer my meaning. See to imply is an action and to infer is the result of an implication.

It's certainly frustrating to imply something and not have it inferred correctly (or at all).

          "That looks like a good movie."
          "I guess so."

Where we start to go wrong (and down the paranoid road) is when we start to infer meaning when there was nothing implied.

          "What a beautiful day."
          "What you're really saying is that we don't go out enough."

Perhaps this is where PC speech comes from. We try too hard to not say something so instead we contort our language into implication and innuendo hoping that our meaning will magically be inferred correctly. Or people so used to speech having a double meaning or sub-text that they automatically start to infer meaning where there was none other than what was stated. If you know what I mean. What do you mean?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Look In The Mirror

Photo by Witthaya Phonsawat
If you've ever had an identity crisis and bemoaned "who am I?" Or thought you needed time to "find yourself," I can help with that. No, you don't have to go to a sweat lodge or engage in some meditative group waiting for the talking stick to make its way around the circle. No. If you want to know who you are down to your very essence, have a baby.

That adorable, cuddly, helpless, cooing bundle of love grows quickly. First they learn to smile and giggle *heart melt*, then they learn to sit up and eat solid food *happy claps*, and then they start to pull up to their feet. There is no greater feeling of pride than that of a parent watching their baby take his first steps.

Little Man will be three in just a few weeks. Lately, his personality has become... well... a taste of our own medicine. Good traits: curiosity, intelligence, eagerness to learn, happy-natured, independent, and free-spirited. Bad traits: stubbornness, and willfulness. Some days his good traits are bad too. Especially when he wants to exercise his free-spirited independence.

My husband and I have no one to blame but ourselves for the Little Man's nature. We find ourselves often quoting Jack Byrnes in Little Fockers - "double dose." We have to be honest with ourselves and each other about what we see in Little Man. We see ourselves just like looking in a mirror. Someday, we will be glad of all his traits, good and bad, because they will help him to survive in the real world and support us in our old age. For the present, we are exhausted trying to corral him to keep him from hurting himself.

Photo by Marcus
I thought we did well to protect him when we installed cabinet locks and baby gates. Now that he's bigger, and climbing *gasp! what are you doing up there?!*, we have made our home a veritable fortress. We may have to lock the upper cabinets. The refrigerator is locked and the door knobs have spinny things on them so no one can open a door to get out. I can't shake the lyrics of Hotel California "you can check-in any time you like, but you can never leave," whenever I try to open a door. This is an attempt to prevent him from opening the door to the garage and then pressing the garage door button allowing him to escape into the street - where I found him the other day. *heart in throat*

I know that it won't be long before he'll learn how to open the gate, the cabinets, the refrigerator and the doors. For now, I'll just enjoy watching him trying to figure it out. I'll smile with serenity when he screams with frustration because he's safe and I'll cry with sorrow with him because I've felt that way too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Editing and Revising

Last week after a one month hiatus, I started editing and revising the adolescent scribbling I call my novel. A couple of evil fiends friends offered to be fresh eyes and they have made a number of harsh suggestions that I'm sure will make my novel better.

Two things have surprised me. First, how taking a break from my novel could change my perspective. Now that I'm not living in wrapped up in the storyline or held captive captivated by the characters on a daily basis, I can be more objective. This is good because I can look at the evil criticisms suggestions that were made without taking them personally. More than likely, the critiques are things I'd have seen too.

Second, just how impossible difficult editing and revising can be. You have to look for punctuation, grammar and spelling. Then there's continuity, repetition, gaps, cliche, awkwardness, wordsmithing, triteness, imagery, etc. Somethings will get cut and condensed, others will get expanded and explored. The hard part is knowing what makes the story better.

I hope the shredding editing of my novel won't take as long as writing it did. I'd like to get this over and done with finished as soon as it's ready. In the meantime, I have started my second novel. The working title is Untitled.