Tag Archives: dictionary

columniate


calumniate verb, to make false and malicious statements about; slander

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It has been a long while since I have written here. A year to be exact. It’s time to return to this practice of writing again.

So calumniate. A fitting word for the current politics of our time. It would be easy to write something about Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, but how boring would that be? You can just go watch the media outlet of your choice for an update on that.

I am at home again taking care of a baby and not working full time. The one thing I notice most about my days here in the house is the silence. It is often pierced by the screaming of a baby or my 4 year old, but there are times when it is deadly silent. I often find myself turning on the radio or tv just for sound. If you were to walk into my home in the middle of the day, you would hear something different in each room. It’s a mechanism I use to calm myself and actually helps me focus. Something to listen to instead of my own head, which will always get me into trouble. This being the case, I find myself listening to snippets of conversations, sometimes not knowing what came before or what they are even about. I feel like one focusses on what is being said right at that moment more then when you have been following a conversation. I also find this way of isolating conversation can cause you to judge someone more harshly or form a stronger opinion based on the small amount that was heard. Sometimes I form an opinion because I recognize the voice as someone I do not like or vice versa just because I am not concentrating on the plot line they are discussing. I’d never really thought about these things until I started avoiding silence.

This habit of listening to partial conversations is not unlike how we all go through life. In the office or out and about. I rarely listen to someone 100% when they are telling a story or explaining something. I usually zone out and concentrate on where my eyes are looking so they can’t catch onto the fact that I am not listening at all. If I had to calculate it, I’d say I probably listen 30 to 40% of what most people have to say. I probably shouldn’t admit that…I am guessing the higher percentage you listen is proportional to how much of a caring person you are. I will refrain from judging myself in this way for now.

I wonder what the impact is of the 60 to 70% I have missed. If other people are doing this the way I am, I wonder how much we are all missing. If we honestly don’t know those other pieces, it is easier for us to be mean, to calumniate others – because we honestly missed the parts that might have explained the sentences that we just heard. There might have been some vital information in there that we passed over. The few words that would have completely changed our opinion.

Case in point, arguing with my husband. When I am arguing, I probably only hear about 20% of what the other person is saying because I am listening to my head, which is behind the steering wheel and heading us straight into a long, convoluted argument about something trivial. Often times after the argument, when things are calm and we are recapping the stupidity that took up too much time, I will explain to my husband, “all that he had to say was,” to have prevented the escalation or to have made things right. He often tells me that that is exactly what he did and I wonder to myself if maybe I need to try and listen closer to 80% of what people are saying instead of catching the snippets, which are much more interesting and open ended.

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

-Socrates

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diaphanous


diaphanous adj. (of fabric) light, delicate or translucent

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I don’t think of babies as being light, airy and delicate. Perhaps it is because my own son is a toddler now and destruction seems always in his wake. Sure. Babies are delicate and “diaphanous” in some ways. In the grand scheme of life, however, I believe that at birth we are our strongest…let me explain.

When we are born, we are new. All of our parts have been oiled and our bones and skin have never been used. We are taken out of our packaging and arrive into the world in a most dramatic way. Even our lungs have never breathed air before. And from that day of birth, we grow to be more and more used. When my son walks around, he seems so solid and strong – like his legs are made of steel – but each day they learn a pattern, a gait. They get worn in.

It is as if the world erodes us and makes us more light and delicate as we journey through life. “Diaphanous” makes me think of the delicate, translucent skin of an old woman’s hands…or the thinning white, wispy hair of my long deceased grandmothers. And why cannot this be as beautiful as birth and youth? The fact the the world has washed away the newness of a person the same way the ocean waters erode the land and shores? I think it is just as beautiful, if not more so.

I think it best to live life in quest of losing more and more of yourself. Life is to let the world take of you what it will until there is nothing left. Sometimes perhaps it will be pain that leaves a permanent scar, but other times it will be the joy of laughter that will force a dozen breaths from your lungs…never to return again – permanent and beautiful all the same.

We are born with the strength of steel, and if we are lucky die with the delicate lightness of lace.

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opine


opine v. hold and state as ones opinion

I have been bad and haven’t written in a few days as I have been interviewing for a job. My head has not been in the game of learning words recently, but I am back with the word of today.

Opinions are a wonderful thing and, just like assholes, everyone has one. To be quite honest, I am really weary of opinions and politics. I feel like my whole life I have either been talking about what I believe and what everyone else believes, etc. Opinions are complex things. They make or break friendships, they get you fired, they cause dissent. I have always been an opinionated person but lately I have been refraining from opining.

My reasoning is that life is a little more pleasant NOT standing on my soap box. My head is so full of information that I pick up that it’s hard for me to decide what to think sometimes. I also find that my opinion changes over time as I experience and live through more difficulties and good times. As I grow older, I am less likely to opine and more likely to examine my thoughts and keep my opinions personal until I am sure of how I really feel.

At this rate, I hope to have some decisions made about what I really believe by the time I am old and gray. At that time, I will dust off the soap box, get back on it and tell you what I think.

Call me wishy washy, a coward or a loner, but I am tired of being self righteous and determined to have my voice heard. I have to do some research and learning. I want to be fair. Instead of being seen as opinionated and strong I am more interested in being a decent and good person. I want to enjoy life as much as I can and absorb the world around me – for better or for worse.

I have spent my life trying to be something, trying to collect all of the things to use to build a picture of who I am or want to be. I have always had a strong opinion. I have never just let me be me. So instead of looking at things and forming opinions I am going to focus on acceptance and learning to take in all of the world around me without the pressure of having to say what I think. Maybe some meditation…perhaps a few sun salutations…hopefully a prayer or two.

Let’s see how long this lasts…

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mendacious


mendacious adj. untruthful

2 + 2 = 5 is a mendacious statement…it is also an amazing song by Radiohead.

This “untrue” statement is also found in Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky, one of my favorite books which I have not read in a very long while.

I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.

I think I must have written several college essays on this quote. We spend most of our lives striving for honesty and truth in our lives and yet when we break its confines we enter a new realm of creativity and invention. Yet in Orwell’s 1984, 2+2 = 5 is a statement used by the state to oppress its people.

Something to think on for the day…

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oik


oik n. an uncouth or obnoxious person

Wow. I can’t believe the dictionary gave me this word today. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! In America, it means you get drunk, wear green and pretend you’re Irish. In Ireland…er…you drink Guinness and have a farm parade. We spent St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland a few years ago and it was actually quite pleasant and devoid of oiks. It was like a religious holiday for the Irish and as we were there on a weekday, it was a day off. We went to a parade in Cashel but it was mostly tractors, farm animals and children. We had ice cream and Guinness and the world was blissful. Unfortunately there was no traditional Irish music, just Black Eyed Peas and a late night dance party…which was disappointing.

The world could do with a few less oiks these days. They seem to turn up everywhere…television, Whole Foods, on trains with “F*** Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts” and on the road in cars. I think someone needs to form a Coalition Against Oiks. I encounter them everyday and have to bite my tongue.

Well anyway, today I have avoided the oiks. My husband’s birthday is today so he is in the city while my son and I avoid the crowds and drunken masses. This word reminds me of a chant from old Girl Scout Camp days. Change the oi oi oi to oik oik oik….

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My Triumphant Return to Literacy


As I grow older it seems that my vocabulary and mastery of the English language grows younger. I increasingly find myself unable to speak intelligently or searching for words. Maybe this is due to too little reading and too much mindless television. Nonetheless, I came up with an idea to help me return to literacy.

The other day when I was walking past the library and listening to my iPod too loudly, I reminisced back to my college days as an English major and immediately remembered the OED. It was the gold standard of dictionaries for all references in college. Merriam Webster was just not up to snuff. Yet somehow I don’t own an OED…possibly because it is huge, possibly because the web has taken over the literary universe. So the idea for this blog was born. Today I am venturing out to the Barnes and Noble to purchase an OED of my own (OED stands for Oxford English Dictionary) and each day flip randomly with my eyes closed through the pages to pick out a word for the day. I have discovered that you cannot access the OED online without paying $30 a month for  and you can’t randomly find a word either. Buying the book is cheaper and I want my son to someday know what the original OED looked like.

Now here’s the big idea. Instead of just taking note of the word and memorizing it uselessly, or simply writing it down, I am going to force myself to use the word in a creative way on this blog. The idea is to create a short work of fiction with the word or perhaps even find a photo or video illustrating the word to help burn it into my memory. I am going to attempt to do this everyday for as long as I can…until I am less illiterate. Hence, OED a Day. Technically, it should be Word a Day or OED Word a Day. OED a day just had more pizzazz.

I don’t really care who reads the blog…it’s really for my own edification. However, if you want to read my posts and learn a word a day, by all means, join me. Even write your own examples or pieces that you come up with. Stay tuned for my first word!

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