Short Answer

Word: Terrible
Source: “New York” by Edward Rutherford, p. 528

Things that come to mind:

spiders
Goldman Sachs
broken toes
papercuts
tanks
mom jeans
running out of toilet paper
running from the law
beets
high fructose corn syrup
dead pets
broken hearts
lost loved ones
lonliness
misplaced rage
dwelling on the past
accruing debt
gaining weight
waiting
more waiting
wanting without knowing what to want
burned popcorn
burned popcorn smell that lingers long after
irreversable mistakes
unaccepted apologies
guilt
guillotines
greed
gas prices
going too far
elevator farts
lice
lying
getting caught
getting by
standing by
standing by just to get by
refusing risk
being upset about it
pining
& sharks.

ChoICE

Word: Choice
Source: “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 256

And the loaded words keep on coming.

I looked through my entire list of cell phone contacts and re-assigned my ICE contacts.  ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency.”  Naturally, I picked people who lived closest to me and family members.  The funny thing is that after I picked my emergency contacts, I started scrolling through the numbers saved and started thinking about the people who would attend my funeral if something should happen to me.  It was a really random, morbid moment.

I have numbers for family, close friends, acquaintances, some old friends from college, a work contact or two, some old contacts from places I used to work.  I thought about what I had done so far and friends I’d retained.  Face it, the friends you have now are the ones you chose to stick by you no matter what.  At this point in my life, things get real and you need to have people in you life who will stick by you when things get real.

I’m thankful for the friends I have, even if we don’t see each other as often as when we were in our carefree 20s.  I may get mad at you for whatever reason.  We may disagree, argue, etc.  But, I choose to keep you and hope that you choose to keep me too.

Maybe There Is a Point to It

Word: Quality
Source: “The Areas of My Expertise” by John Hodgman, p.85

The selection of such loaded words thus far seems contrived.  But I stand by my original rule that this was the first word I landed on with the point of a pen.

I got some good news at work — which is more than a lot of people get these days.  It had to do with my performance to date and the rewards that my company felt it warranted.  I was happy.  Sort of.  I’ll get a bigger paycheck.  My job still primarily deals with many people who will not like what I have to tell them.

Some take it personally.  Some attack personally.  I try not to.

I’m reassured that what I do and how I go about it is recognized as valuable.  The stress and gray hair and sleepless nights are a little easier to bear.  As much as someone may say “good job,” the actual weight of those words didn’t register until now.  I like to think that despite the colorful language the issues I address with companies may procure, I helped someone denied their due get some of what they deserve.

“I’m Invincible!”; “You’re a looney!”

Word: Elements
Source: “Self” magazine, February 2010, p. 57

So, it’s essential.  Element.  Something on which something else is built.  It’s small, but it can’t be broken down.  It’s powerful and sometimes electric.  Its what was left of The Black Knight?

Sometimes, I feel like as I go through life with my faithful servant Patsy dutifully clapping coconuts, there is something I thought  defeated and broken down that still shouts and taunts me as I try to progress.

When I started my current job position over a year ago, I’d been moved around within the company several times before being left to try my hand at this ever challenging and difficult position.

And I’ve done well, for the most part.

And I was happy for quite a while.

And I thought I could settle in and make a go of it — that my search for permanence was coming to an end.  The limbs of my adversary are chopped off and I can finally be on my way.

Now I’m not so sure.  I’m still nagged by a feeling of being unfinished.

I can’t see my future clearly as things stand today.  The biggest thing is that I can’t see myself staying in Chicago.  My job pays decently, but not enough to commit to buying a home.  The challenges I face at work are interesting, but also exhausting.  Sometimes at the end of the day, I don’t like what I’ve done to get my job done  – even though I may have helped one party by putting another through the ringer.

I often get the urge to move.  As much as I have here in the way of friends and family, I also see myself somewhere else.  I have a lot of, “I should have. . .”s;  I don’t have as many, “I will. . .”s.

Just Over

Word: Over
Source: “The Forest” by Edward Rutherford, p. 157

I’m looking forward to summer in much the same way I did when I was in my early twenties.  I have a mental list of things that I can’t wait to do, like go street festivals; spend time on the beach, and have a few laughs with The Girls.  Well, I’m not in my twenties anymore and neither are my friends.  We’re no longer a cohesive group of single city ladies who can’t wait to see what the next weekend brings.  Most of us got married and a couple are expecting little bundles or planning to try for one soon.  But not me.

While I’m happy for my friends, I long for some of the old days when the question was not if we would see each other, but a matter of what time and where.  I get the sense of ends fraying and the unraveling of lives woven together over the years.  We saw each other through many things — survived fights and breakups and gossip and drama.  I don’t blame marriages and children.  I know people change and evolve.  I know lives get more complicated with age.  I have no illusion that I’m still 24, but I took comfort in knowing that I could always call The Girls.

Now, its like I’m on the outside looking in.  Waiting.  For what, I’m not sure.  What’s over is over and it can’t be helped.  The pieces left are unfamiliar and I don’t know how to put them together.  I still look forward to summer.  This dreary weather does nothing for the spirit.  I want to be an optimist.  I want tan legs.  I want my few laughs.  I want to run more.  I think I’m alone on that, though.

On the Road, Again

Word: Seem
Source: Sierra, January/February 2010, p.15

“I went to the gym yesterday,” is not a novel statement for early January and has little to do with a resolution.  I’ve been a sporadic gym patron for years.  I prefer the outdoors for its lack of broken equipment, offensive perfume clouds, and demotivational music fighting with sounds of crashing weights and panting cardiomaniacs.  On a sub-zero winter day, however, I’ll grin and bear it.

What bothered me most about my trip to the gym wasn’t the smell of the crowd or music or noise.  It was my clothes.  Rather, the body in those clothes and the tugging at the seams of my bike style running shorts so the fabric wouldn’t go places it shouldn’t.  One trick I employ is pulling the inseam forward ever so slightly so, essentially twisting the fabric to give the backside a little more slack.  That way, when I get moving on the treadmill, the shorts are more likely to stay put.

It seems this method grew increasingly necessary in the last year.  I bought most of my clothes while I was in the midst of marathon training.  I trained and ran three years straight.  However, I decided to take time off from abusing my knees and various tendons.   My workout routine hence dwindled to near nil and I grew to be the person I am today.  Mentally repaired, but physically fluffier. 

Economically speaking, its cheaper to pay a marathon entry fee and buy some new running shoes than replacing my wardrobe and continuing purchasing steak.  It’s probably a bit healthier too. 

Sadly, I don’t know how to repair the new frays and stress tears plaguing my favorite day-to-day jeans – the ones that have managed to somehow grow with me.  I can, however, try to lessen the stress my thighs exert on the denim and declare that a frayed jean seems trendy.

Unwelcome Guest

Word: History
Source: City Journal, Autumn 2009, p. 13

Hello, Insomnia.  It’s been a while, but we’ve had some crazy times, right?  Remember last summer when nothing out of the ordinary happened and I wasn’t particularly stressed out about anything and you decided to drop in for the night unannounced?  I had to call in to work the next day.   

How about the last few months when you started to show up more regularly, like an out of town acquintance who stops by every now and again because he happens to be in town for business?  We go way back, you and me, but why did you have to stop by last night?

Seriously.  There’s a time and place for you — like a Las Vegas vacation.  We just can’t have regular hookups like this.  It’s not right.  You shouldn’t be coming over all the time, reading my books, drinking tea, or talking to my dog much less focusing on how much noise my radiator makes.  I’m tired.  I can’t have my mind racing all night while you figure out what to do and why you’re there. 

I’m glad you finally left at three this morning, but be sure I’ll be thinking of you all day today with every cup of coffee I consume.  I want to put this behind me once and for all.  Please consider it a standing order that you’re not to enter my house again.

Was?!

Word:  Möchten (Möchten now means “to like, to prefer” as in “to desire, to wish, to want”. It is often combined with would (especially in questions.))
Source:  Text message from my brother who is learning German

I don’t speak German.  I learned some Spanish at one point, but retained little.  I’d like to learn another language and be a better traveler.  Sure, tourists from anywhere tend to akwardly negotiate through a new place.  However, the difference lies in perspective.  The average American tourist in Europe is a special breed.  Two years ago, I went to Paris with my sister and can understand the American tourist stereotype so much better.

Consider your average American and average American vacation.  The U.S. is very large and mostly isolated.  (Just wait, it gets more profound going forward.)    Fly for hours, drive for two days and odds are you’re still in the U.S.  When you arrive at your destination, people will still speak English, for the most part.  You will be able to read maps and street signs.  At your hotel, the outlets work the way you expect.  When you go to a restaurant, most fare doesn’t need translation and asking for a reccomendation is realitively painless.  You know the deal.

Fly a few hours or drive for two days in Europe and you’re in a new country.  Someone at your desitnation might be able to help translate.  There is considerably more pointing and nodding and apologizing and wishing you’d paid more attention in French or German class.  You have no idea if hand the gesture you’re making is insulting.  You’re not sure what you just ordered.  You have no idea how much you stick out like a sore thumb.

I liked Paris.  For the most part, the people were fine.  The French get a bad rap for being rude, but I’ve seen worse.  Consider trying to live in the most populated and visited city in Europe.  You’d grow to be a little salty too.  Acknowledge that you’re in a strange place and don’t know the language.  Try saying, “Good day!  Pardon me,  I’m American, do you speak English?” in French.  A little humility goes a long way.  It will anywhere.

Am I a world traveler?  No.  Am I worldly?  Deffinately not.  Are we all Clark W. Griswold?  No.  Do I know what I’m talking about most days?  Unlikely, but I’m aware of that.

Oh, Holidays

Word: Delicate
Source: Hot Woks Cool Sushi takeout menu description for Beef with Broccoli, p.1?

I was careful not to tear the corners of the paper while wrapping presents.  I wanted them to look like the time and patience that went into them.

After we exchanged small talk and pleasantries and the gifts we’d gotten that we weren’t sure we should return, I chose to be left alone, have another beer, and tried to concentrate on hating the Michael Bolton Christmas song blaring through the bar while hoping no one noticed I was fighting crying.

British Influence

Word: huntsmen
Source: “Sarum” by Edward Rutherfurd, p. (I forgot to note the page number.  It’s a long book.  I’m not going back to look.  It was 3/4 the way in.)

I was watching Eddie Izzard’s standup on Netflix, but the internet connection slowed.  It’s taking its sweet time to reload and come back on (buffering, buffering), so I grabbed a book of the shelf to see what could be made of my blog today.  I know what “huntsmen” means in the context of the book — clearly a group of men who hunt.  But I decided to drop the word into Google anyway & found that huntsman (singular) is a type of nasty looking cheese.  British cheese.  Being obviously not British, this was news to me.  It’s a cheese made of layers of other cheeses made by a single cheesemaker who now has a monopoly on said nasty bit of layered cheese that I don’t have a desire to eat for purely aesthetic reasons.

I hope that doesn’t make me shallow.  I usually don’t care if my food isn’t pretty as long as it tastes good. Then again, if you put something nasty-looking in front of me and swear up  and down that it’s delicious, I probably won’t believe you.  I may not eat it.  I can be choosey like that.  I lead a fairly comfortable life and can be a bit picky about what I consume.  I’m lucky to have the choice.  I can always get something later if what’s in front of me isn’t what I want.

I believed for a time that the world was my oyster (delicious!) and I can have anything I want — that I can always go out and get what I want.  I wonder then why the things I want haven’t manifested.  I wonder if I really know what I want, which is why contentment is so elusive.  I don’t know if I have that hunter instinct (if you will.)  Am I one of those people at the camp who waits for things to be brought back, or do I gather my gear and go get what I need?  I’m still searching.

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