Words of the Wise

I’m a big word geek. I love the words. Give me a really good dictionary – because there are also crappy dictionaries – and don’t talk to me for half an hour. When I discovered online dictionaries will send subscribers a new definition daily, I subscribed to two in English, and my cousin in Guatemala found one in Italian. It’s fun fun fun for me me me.

One of these services is A.Word.A.Day from a woman named Anu Garg, who is witty. Her stories fascinate me. At the end of every communique she includes a quote (or is it ‘quotation’? I still have so much to learn) from an observant person with a big brain. Today’s was so beautiful.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

-George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

I should write her another shameless fangirl letter. In a time when mean morons rule the world, people working toward spreading the Smart Stuff should be amply rewarded with love.

Putting That Money Where Your Mouth Isn’t

There’s an email forward-whatsis going around about what wounded U.S. soldiers want for the holidays:

Yellow ribbons tied around trees and red, white and blue stickers on the backs SUVs saying “Support our Troops” are things that make civilians feel good but do nothing for the men and women actually in uniform.

So please consider the following:

The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. The government doesn’t pay long distance phone charges and these wounded soldiers are rationing their calls home.

Many will be there throughout the holidays. Really support our troops — Send phone cards of any amount to:

Medical Family Assistance Center

Walter Reed Medical Center

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW

Building 2, Third Floor, Room 3E01

Washington, DC 20307-5001

They say they need an “endless” supply of these — any amount even $5 is greatly appreciated.


For $5.37 and an envelope, you can do a kind thing for someone in an unpleasant situation. Now, if only the government would do the same for veterans instead of punishing them for being injured, we could look the enlisting in the eye.

The Personal Is the Political

It’s an old feminist maxim I didn’t grasp at first, but now I do, and with all ten digits. I trust your intelligence enough that I’m not going to explain it to you. Suffice it to say we’re not in a freshman Women’s Studies course, getting excited about the idea that Mom *and* Dad handle the housework together (and we should all be mortified that in December 2004, this idea can be news to anybody). I’m interested at the moment in my own internal conflicts about austerity and materialism, independence and security, and the three-day headache in my left eye that makes me wonder if I should overreact and call the doctor rather than stuff myself full of sinus medicine.

What do I want? After a month of thinking about it, I still don’t know. I expect to know, since I always knew before what I wanted: to write well. That was fine for the presumed first half of my life. I’ve written well; now I’m lucky I can still type. Details aside, what do I want to do?

Scores of Perception

Trout’s brother’s architectural firm in Seattle doesn’t pay undue attention to its hold music. Someone brings in a CD, presses Play, and for a day or two, the music plays when someone calls. Usually, not much is said. The week the CD playing was whale songs was different, however; sometimes the whales sing, sometimes they blow bubbles, and sometimes those bubbles sound like farts.

This drew some comment.

Yeah, Yeah, Futile, I Get It!

I’ve resisted linking to articles on events and news reports, and truthfully, I don’t have any skill in this coding department. Still, this little story has been bothering me for days, though I have no special fondness for children. Okay, I can handle them one at a time, but not in groups. Anyway, my problems aside, the online news has been peppered with stories like this one with disturbing regularity:

Pa. Police Apologize for Scissors Arrest


The common theme is that adults have lost their collective mind since September 11th, and Americans are visiting on their children a plague called “Act Your Age While I Act Like A Big Baby.” This Zero Tolerance crap is just that, and it’s about time rulemakers and legislators got the point already. When little girls are arrested, cuffed and taken downtown for taking school supplies to school, we need to GET A GRIP. Is there some reason a rational person couldn’t have said, “Sweetie, the grownups here are complete spazzes and we have scissors, so please leave yours home, okay?” No, instead we now have at least one child who’s learned she can’t trust her teachers or the police and that her school system could punish her for virtually ANYTHING AT RANDOM (don’t give me that “No, no, just this one particular crime” nonsense; we are talking about the mind of a child). You can also bet your last dollar that all the children at that school learned something this past week, and it wasn’t that we as adults have their best interests at heart.

posted by Tata yesterday, reconstituted today when it went POOF!

A Hit Before Your Mother Was Born

Written to Dad, a Beatles fan from just about the time I was born, who no doubt has swallowed his tongue:

So. My student worker, who is younger than Miss Sasha, has spent the last twenty-five minutes telling her friend the other student worker how she’s discovered this great band called The Beatles. And she didn’t KNOW they were so popular, and she found this record, and she was just playing a bunch of records to find out what she liked. How could you not like the Beatles? And did you know his wife is younger than even his DAUGHTER? Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my cubicle, mere feet away. The students and the twenty-somethings in my office discuss music on an almost daily basis, and on an almost daily basis, I hear conversations that’d make you want to take a hostage. Sometimes, I get up, walk around the cubicle wall and correct their versions of history or, as when I was asked if I’d ever heard of this thing “Alice’s Restaurant,” I sat in my cubicle and growled, “I don’t know why I TALK TO YOU GUYS.” So here I am, and she’s talking about the Beatles, and I get up, walk around the wall, grab her gently by the chin and MWAH-kiss her on the forehead. She misunderstands. She’s very pleased. She says, “Have I made you happy?” or something just like it. I cannot correct this impression. I just say, “Sometimes, you make me smile.”

Giving, Taking, Taking Away

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, cries when shoved into the cat carrier. It’s not that he mews or meows like other cats, no. He says, “Mink! Mink!” all the way to the vet’s office, where he is pronounced larger than last visit, and possessed of an absessed tooth. Medicine is prescribed. Larry shoves himself back into the cat carrier and promptly complains. “Mink,” he says. “Mink!” The ride home is brief, but not brief enough for the cat. He gets to go home. I go back to work, where everyone wants to know, “Though I fear for my soul, I wonder: how is Larry?”

Crunchy, Yet Chewy

A peculiar thing was going on at the discount department store: everyone seemed to be speaking another language, everyone was very angry, and nobody listened to anyone else. To those people, I showed a very gentle face, brimming with the humility of a person not necessarily capable of doing the job they were, and in the end that doubt proved to be the truth. Today, I quit the part-time job. For about ten minutes I was relieved, then started to worry about money again.

If you’re going to develop an after dinner craving for Triscuits and cream cheese, make sure your manicure is dry. Trust me on this one!

When I’m nervous over a long period of time, I develop a short-term fixation on some character on the ABC soaps. Currently, I want Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, to feel healthy and cantankerous. I want to find a spiffy way around offering my landlord Monopoly money. I want my back to stop aching and making me feel like Methuselah. Yes, I want lots of things. But boy oh boy – I really want Bianca to get her baby back. I want that more than chocolate, more than Italian pumps, more than a clear, wrinkle-free complexion. More than I want Mick Jagger to quit making records, I want Bianca to get Miranda back. I want that a whoooooooooooole lot. I want it! So I can tell I’m anxious.

Brash and Brasher

Blogger gives me fits. Sometimes I can’t publish from home. This hardly compares to the annoyance provided by an article in the Guardian about a certain Conservative Christian planning to censor works by gay artists and playwrights. His premise is that Alabamians have to be protected from positive portrayals of homosexuality. This overeducated moron doesn’t deserve the time of day from anyone, let alone the ear of the President, and yet he claims to have it. I’m omitting his name because I don’t wish to publicize his efforts in any way, but the author of the article is Gary Taylor, whose ability to have a conversation with someone proposing to “tone down” Shakespeare is strangely impressive.

Let’s be completely clear about this. The gentleman in question feels the public – he says Christians, perhaps you are one – need protection from four-letter words and gay culture. The gentleman feels your culture is under attack. He feels you’re defenseless in the face of A Chorus Line, or The Color Purple. This man doesn’t think much of you or your ability as a grown person to THINK FOR YOURSELF.

This man thinks the President’s re-election means Concervative Christianity should now re-work American – and therefore, world – culture. He thinks you’re the kind of spineless fool who has to be protected from the horrors of Hollywood. He thinks the channel changer and the off buttons on your radios and TVs are not enough. He’s in the mood to legislate, and he’s got a bill.

Are you scared yet?

Green Light, Green Light

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is leaving a trail of blood droplets wherever he rests his head. The vet doesn’t seem to be alarmed, but I am. I’m worried about my small, bossy friend. Our problems with his teeth and the feline leukemia may be coming to a head. He’s lurking behind the futon and seems intent on staying there.

In fact, I have the worst feeling something terrible is going to happen.

The discount department store offered me a slightly less temporary version of the part-time job, this time in the children’s department. I’m not sure my ancient, arthritic joints will permit it. Plus, when you fold and refold clothes for six hours, you’re covered with a wide variety of itchy fibers, and you’re a forensic technician’s nightmare scenario. Note to Enemies: if you kill me on my way home from the job, chances are CSIs will overlook you as a suspect in favor of a gang of reasonably well-dressed, surly toddlers.

Today, I got to see one of my poems translated into Italian and published. The journal is beautiful to my eye. The experience is strange. It’s like someone else picked my shoes, or as if my Self was rearranged for a new public. Buon giorno to you, too.