Monthly Archives: October 2012

beezer


beezer adj. excellent

As you can imagine, I subscribe to the OED online. I bought a small version of the dictionary for $40 and it came with a free subscription. It’s fun to play on the site and today I found a way to look up British / English words. “Beezer” is a British adjective meaning excellent and I just love it because it’s so happy sounding. It really embodies “so very good” in a way that “excellent” doesn’t. Excellent has the connotation of excelling or beating someone or something else. Same thing as outstanding – I feel like it has to be so great that it “out – stands” the rest of everything.

Beezer reminds me of Beezus Quimby from the Beverly Cleary books that I absolutely loved as a kid. She was the next door neighbor of Henry who had the annoying little sister Ramona. However, I think it a bit ironic because Beezus was the wall flower older sister who was out shined by Ramona. So this is probably a bad reference for recalling the meaning of beezer…good books though.

The problem with looking up British words is that when you say them with an American accent they sound completely un charming. I found myself saying beezer with a fake British accent which is pretty sad. But when I said it with my normal accent, it just sounded like some thug frat boy language. Imagine it in a Boston accent – beezah! (I almost want to go to Boston and start a trend.)

Anyway, back to beezer’s counterparts – excellent and outstanding. Does something have to stand out amongst everything or beat out all else to be considered very, very great? Do we decide what is wonderful only through comparison or can something be intrinsically great just because it is – with out reference to something else that has or had existed? I don’t think it can. Which would mean if we are constantly striving for excellence we are in constant competition…and where is the day to day happiness in this?

When I think about an excellent day it doesn’t depend on just one element. To me a beezer moment could be a rainy morning where the Keurig machine spit out an unexpectedly sublime cup of coffee and I enjoyed hearing the raindrops hit the windowpane in such a way that they sound musical. Maybe I picked up a Harpers and flipped to a poem I didn’t expect to find while sipping my coffee and found a new poet that quickly became my favorite. Even on the small scale – even if I am talking about just a beezer 5 minutes – is it not excellent because it was better than the five minutes before? Or the 5 minutes I had at exactly the same time yesterday morning- perhaps it was sunny but my coffee sucked and I stared off into space worrying about what the day beheld…

Today I shall use beezer to humble my competitive nature. Competition is good…great perhaps, but it’s where you set the bar. If you set it high – perhaps someday you will reach the height of beezerness. But what’s the point if the road to get there is miserable and unhappy because you are constantly trying to out do yourself. It could be a century of unhappiness and disappointment before you get to your excellence.

I’ll take my excellence in small doses each day. Minute to minute and hour to hour…and when things get gradually more and more wonderful I’ll have had a beezer journey instead of just one excellent day.

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cacoethes


cacoethes noun an irresistible urge to do something inadvisable

At first I thought, “Oh…this word is the same as spontaneous” and then I stopped to really think about it and it isn’t the same at all. I think the key to the difference is “the irresistible urge.” Like an itch you cannot help but scratch. I feel like that in spontaneity there is not an urge, you simply just do something…and it could be inconsequential. Cacoethes has two friends – the urge and consequence – that make something totally different.

I think a cacoethes is a bit like an out of body experience that occurs in adulthood, but is discovered in childhood. In kindergarten I bit a girl because she was reaching over my arm to take the rotary phone I was playing with away. I just had this irresistible urge to hurt her and so I bent my head down and bit her forearm. I was fully aware of the fact that I was going to pay dearly by missing recess and having to stand in the corner for a week, but I couldn’t help myself. For one split second it felt so good to be bad.

If you’re going to talk about cacoethes, than you have to talk about that evil split second of delectable urge. It is really at the center of why people love to be bad. It’s that short moment that feels like a match striking in your chest causing a momentary, wondrous burst of flame. In that moment, you feel incredible, rebellious, powerful…and then it goes out as quickly as it lit. You marvel at the embers and smoke of sweet, sweet rebellion and then the air just clears…and the consequences begin. Much like an orgasm or binge, you do something reprehensible to achieve that feeling knowing that you most likely will regret it later.

Cacoethes has a lot to do with addiction as well. It would seem to me that if you come to the consequential portion of the “cacoethan cycle” and launch right back into the urge – not taking the time to acknowledge the consequences – you are some sort of addict, always chasing that evil split second of bliss. The consequences just continue to pile up like undone laundry until you have nothing left to wear, naked and exposed. I suppose when you get this far into it you make a decision to live or die – to end the cycle and face that pile of dirty laundry…or to stay naked in the world chasing that urge until you die.

At least I didn’t become a biting addict. But I still remember the girl’s name who I bit that day. This song reminds me of my first memorable cacoethes. So perhaps I am still paying a small consequence to this day…

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pinion


pinion noun. the outer part of a bird’s wing including the flight feathers

Several months ago I went for a run in the mountain reserve near my home with my son in his stroller. I remember not feeling particularly well that day and being in a bad mood about something I can’t recall. Running is a stress reliever for me but I always listen to loud music in order to ignore the pain that running causes and to not hear my own huffing and wheezing all along the way. That particular day, I had forgotten my earphones. Like I said, I was in a bad mood but I still needed to run because I knew it would make me feel better. Instead of focusing on music I focused on the nature around me and tried to ignore my bodily groaning. I noticed a sparrow in the middle of the trail, not flying or walking, but just looking up toward the sky. Of course when I got closer to him, he took flight, but I was left with an amazing feeling that things would be okay. That all I had to do was remember to look up and the sky would still be there the same way it was for the bird.

Throughout my life there have always been symbolic birds. It all started with my mother when I was a child. I had never met her father, my grandfather. He died when my mother was around 20 from a heart attack, but I can tell that she loved him very much. She always told me that her father came back as a pigeon after he died. Now, we are Catholic so we don’t believe in reincarnation, but my mother was very sure that whenever she saw an animated pigeon, or one that stood out among the rest, it was her father. Maybe it was because her father used to keep pigeons on the roof when she was growing up in Brooklyn or maybe the pigeon’s stout stature and tenacity recalled fond memories of her dad. Either way, my grandfather is a pigeon.

The first grown up book that I ever read was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I still have the paper back copy that my dad gave me and have read it over and over again. I kept the same bookmark I used as a kid in the book and every time I open it to read I feel like I am sitting by the pool at my grandmother’s house in Bergenfield reading it for the first time. I’ve noticed over time that memories of my father become fainter and I have to think harder to recall him. This book is like a totem for my memory. If there were ever a fire in my home and I could save something other than the obvious – baby, husband, dog, wedding photos – I’d reach for this book next. In a way, if my grandfather is a pigeon then my father is definitely a seagull.

But back to my bird story. So this sparrow I saw was looking up at the sky and I had never noticed a bird doing that before. Usually the birds that I see are scavenging for food or picking up bits of garbage to build a nest. Somehow I feel connected to that sparrow. He wasn’t looking at the sky because he longed to fly again…he took off and flew seconds later. The sky is a sort of home to a bird…second only to their nest. Perhaps the sky can be my second home as well. The place I look to in order to clear my head and get above all of the nonsense clouding my sight on the ground.

The sky is special place that only clouds and birds can really call a home. People and planes can visit it to get from here to there, but not really experience the sky the way a bird can. It’s interesting to think about skydiving and space needles and all the odd ways humans interact with the sky. It is as if we go up high to make where we actually reside and live every day seem a little more special so that when we go back down to the ground, we have a different perspective.The difference is we have to work pretty hard to get above the ground to look down. The sky is always there in abundance and all we have to do is look up for a different perspective.

Who would have thought that keeping your head in the clouds would help keep you more grounded?

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voulu


voulu adj. lacking in spontaneity; contrived

How many words do you know that end in a “u” like this one? I don’t think I know any others, hence the reason I chose it.   Voodoo ends in an “o” but that doesn’t count. It’s the “u” that makes this word special. For some reason this word makes me think of the Lululemon shopping bags they give out – because spending 80 dollars on something you are going to sweat in should come with a little free inspiration. So in the spirit of spontaneity, I am going to ponder some of these sayings from my shopping bag as an exercise for today’s post. Now some of these quotes are well known and wise, while others sound like they came out of the mouth of some type A, female, yoga freak psycho…so I’ll include both varieties.

Do one thing a day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay. I think have this covered. I wake up and deal with a screaming child that’s usually covered in urine and jumping on a crib mattress. I also face several different kinds of poop – baby, dog and if I’m not careful, some other kinds when we go to the mountain for a walk or run. Poop is very scary. I don’t know if Eleanor got the verb in her quote right though. Am I supposed to drive the wrong way down the highway or drink bleach? I suppose in the Lululemon yogaverse I’m supposed to do a head stand in class and be in the moment while fearing that my $80 tank top will flap down and expose my flabulous belly…

“Salt + High Fructose Corn Syrup + Butter = Early Death”

What if I dip a carrot in it?

“Friends are more important than money.”

Does this hold true if you go shopping with friends? I would think that the two would cancel each other out. What if you wanted to buy a special present for your friend and you have no money? What if the friend is dying and it’s the very last thing you can do for that person before they expire? What if you and your friends have no money and you can’t buy food? No, wait. What if you and your friend have no money and you need to eat but the only way to get money is to not be friends anymore? What’s more important then? Gotcha Lululemon.

“This is not your practice life. This is your actual life.”

Shit. I thought we were just practicing and I’m already sucking at this. Well, I’m going to stay in bed and eat donuts all day since I’ve already screwed this up.

“Visualize your eventual demise. It can have an amazing effect on how you live in this moment.”

So this morning while munching on half of a banana I visualized my death. Hm. Now let me go do something that scares me. Hand me the bleach and a donut because this ain’t practice. Tootles! I’m going to drive the wrong way down the highway now!

“The world moves at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you two steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!”

This is the last quote because the bag is yelling at me now. Unfortunately, I know people who live like this – many of them. I had never really met anyone who was like this until I moved to NYC and worked on 5th Avenue. They are the perfect young ladies in the Chanel boots with perfect teeth and pencil skirts. They carry their lunch in little Lululemon bags and talk about their Wall Street boyfriends and where they ate dinner last night. They can take you down with one swipe of their perfectly manicured paws in a meeting and then pop 3 Aderalls in the ladies room 30 minutes later. They are on top of their game all of the time – except they are ALL THE SAME. Like little fembots from an Austin Powers movie waiting to shoot you with their boob guns.

The thing is, if you are constantly forcing yourself to change, eventually, you will not be the same person. Change is good on a small scale. No one is perfect and I think trying to be a better person or eat less fat is a fine thing to strive for. It’s a matter of what you are changing and for whom. So DO IT NOW is a dangerous thing. If anything, Lululemon should be a little ashamed of this quote on their bag. Yoga is about being in the present, meditation and self acceptance – at least when you are doing it right. This element is important even in Bikram, which is pretty intense.

So here is a quote that would be more fitting to be on a yoga bag:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

The world would be a better place if we spent less time on changing ourselves and more time trying to change the world around us through our deeds and actions. This is the change we should DO NOW.

Namaste:)

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osculate


osculate verb kiss

My son just recently learned how to kiss on demand. He opens his mouth wide and suctions it to your cheek with a loud “mmm—ahhh” sound when you ask him for a kiss. It is my favorite thing in the world. When I was kid I used to dread family occasions or holidays when people were over and I was forced to kiss or hug people. I remember I would run and hide when I heard the doorbell ring just to avoid it. I come from an Italian family so the formality of kissing friends and family is important and one is considered rude if you do not do so. I suppose the main reason I clam up is due to being shy – an attribute I truly believe I was born with.

The world can be very cruel to people who are shy. It is not a trait that the majority of people find endearing. Shyness is often misunderstood and in our extroverted culture, not something that gets you very far. I have been shy since as far back as I can remember. You probably wouldn’t tag me for this trait these days as I most often disguise this aspect of my personality.  There are still clues to it but I fear that most people mistake it for weirdness, snobbery, or pretension – which is most unfair.

It seems most people stereotype shy people as being sweet and mouselike, hiding in corners, timid and shaking. But that is not the case at all. Shy people have opinions and passions just as strong as extroverts. Just ask someone who is shy and I am sure you will get an ear full – once they get to know you. I don’t know if all shy people are this way, but I just enjoy observing and not participating. I’d rather take in everything and make a story about it than participate. I don’t enjoy making the first move. I like to go slow and ease myself in when I think it’s safe and when I’m ready. There’s nothing wrong with this in my opinion. And shyness doesn’t mean that one has to be a wallflower either. Shy people are like little secret packages waiting to be opened.

I have always channeled my shyness through writing. The first time I did this was my senior year in high school where I wrote an article in the county paper about not going to the prom…and about how happy I was not to go. I received many cheers and jeers from it, but for once I had a voice and I didn’t have to speak to put it out there – and people listened. In college, I wrote for the newspaper for 4 years in the commentary section, no less. Unfortunately, upon graduating in a bad economy, I wasn’t able to work as a journalist as I had planned and gave up my voice for a long time…until most recently with this blog. My writing has become an extroversion where my everyday life is lacking.

My shyness makes me fear being the center of everyone’s attention, yet long for it with all of my being. I believe there are many people like me. Instead of overcoming or ridding our lives of this attribute, we find a different language – writing, dancing, singing – that releases our voice in a different way than just playing a role at a party and keeping up conversation.

Shyness is at the core of creativity, grace, humility…all of those traits that people find lacking in society and that most people strive for. Perhaps they are so rare because most people misunderstand them as negative attributes…the way the world mistakes shyness for so many other unsavory things.

 

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sponsalia


sponsalia noun engagement or marriage

 

When I was married, we had no money so I bought a dress on sale at David’s Bridal for $500 – including all of the crap that goes with it – and my sister in law did my hair. I bought the minimal flowers – daisies – a few bouquets and boutoniers from a flower shop just because I liked it’s name – “Consider the Lilies.” I found a photographer who taught at RISD part time and hired him on the cheap along with disposable cameras on the tables. We chose a wonderful old gothic church that didn’t need decoration and rented an old mansion called the Arcade in Roger Williams Park Zoo for the reception. When the rain poured down that day, we still had outdoor photos on the deck and micro brewed beer from Trinity Brewhouse, who catered for us. We hired our favorite live jazz band from the Custom House in Providence for music and everyone danced and even sang on stage. The day for us was a celebration of who we were together and all of the things we loved and shared in the place that we met and called home. It wasn’t about looking like a model in my photos or 2 inch thick paper stock invitations embossed with our signature logo. We didn’t prance through corn fields holding hands in the sun beams or stare into each others eyes under the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk for engagement photos either. We had no money so we had to be creative, and I am very happy for that..

The marketing of marriage is constantly thrust upon me, whether it is in magazines or Facebook, and I find it truly hilarious. I especially love looking at the glamour shot engagement photos. Everyone has the same shot in Grand Central and Central Park – you know you’ve seen it too. I would think the last thing I would want is a photo that looks just like everyone else’s – but alas, when I used to work at “the Blue Box” people traded bridal photographers like Garbage Pail Kids. I think it may be a status symbol here in the Big Apple, oddly enough.

And the dresses. My office used to be across from the famous Amsale on 5th Avenue so many of the girls I worked with would purchase dresses there for their big day. My poor little Gloria Vanderbilt whose lace hem I thought was so pretty and understated looks like some sad schmata compared to the runway Moniques and Veras I have seen, but I loved it nonetheless. It’s absurd that there are entire television programs devoted to wedding dresses – more than one! The Lifetime network probably has 3 alone. Women in New York also trample each other for off priced Vera Wangs on a certain day of the year. I’ve seen it on the evening news.

If I could do it all again and if I actually had some cash this time, I wouldn’t really change anything about our day. Maybe I would have nicer flowers or more champagne, but we created our own day and I haven’t been to a wedding like it before or since. When I look at our photos I don’t relish how perfect the lighting or staging is, I just marvel at how young and happy we looked. It’s been almost ten years, 2 houses, 1 dog and a baby later. We have wrinkles, have lost some hair and gained a few pounds. So maybe I didn’t look like the most awesome princess in the universe on my wedding day. I have never been one to want that in the first place. I can gladly say that as great as my wedding day was, my marriage has been far greater. I’d rather have incredible photos of each other from all of the places we have travelled then some schlocky picture post card I can send so people think I’m in love.

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