Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


epeleolatry (and the worship of words) ~

I confess. I’m a total word nerd. I was that kid you hated in 4th grade, who begged for spelling words, and won the spelling bee, and had her nose in a book so often that even my grandmother – an old teacher – yelled at me: Girl! Get your nose out of that book! I didn’t invite you to read all weekend!

This past semester I learned a new word: ‘squeg.’ It means to ‘oscillate between max and zero, as in an electronic current.’ But the student who brought the word to class (we have Daily Word in class – words we love, don’t know, want to share…) thought it meant the apogee of a conversation. When I heard her definition, I thought: hmmm… who knew conversations had apogees?

Still, it’s a new word, however discordant it sounds. It’s hard to make melody from a ‘q’. I used to love the word queer, until it began to be used to beat up friends. I liked the way the mouth purses to make the qu dipthong, and then almost smiles to make the ee. It’s noticing (and caring about) things like this that confirm my complete word nerdiness.

All of this makes me quite odd, if you think about it. Because I find squeg an unlikeable word. How can you like or dislike a word, you ask? A sentence – that’s different. It may be poorly written, unclear, etc. We all remember THOSE classes :). But an orphan word? Unattached to parents subject and predicate? Naked of modifiers? Ungendered in its lack of pronouns? What’s to hate about that??

I give you… music. There is no music in ‘squeg.’ It even lacks the onomatopoiea  of ‘squelch.’ Or the whispery finality of ‘squish.’ It’s the ‘g.’ The whole word becomes guttural. And for word nerds? That’s enough.

Except actually, according to the Venn diagram , I’m a word ‘geek’: if you’re obsessed w/ words (guilty :)), and reasonably intelligent (debatable), then you’re a word geek. No rhyme, unfortunately, but accurate… Which should be worth at least as much as rhyme, even if it doesn’t sound as good…

So are you asking what this has to do w/ Beginner’s Heart? All the small things we love make us who and what we are. I heard the poet Carolyn Forché speak recently, and she called our little, everyday decisions the ‘rucksack of our aesthetic.’ We become them, these tiny habits. Perhaps even more than what we think matters, what matters are the infinite & infinitely small day-to-day choices we make. Our quotidian existence :) (another great word!) Like collecting words…

 

 


[1] The worship of words.



Previous Posts

you don't always get what you want...
I'm raising bees! Today I went outside to check on them, and the brilliant blue/ green/ yellow & black of their bodies glittered as the females laid multiple eggs in the tubes of my mason bee house. The ne

posted 4:09:22pm Apr. 22, 2014 | read full post »

when Buddhism and Christianity were THIS close
Most of the time, I confess, I think of Christianity as a violent religion. Beginning w/ the Crusades, various holy wars, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, Nazi Germany... It

posted 6:43:33pm Apr. 21, 2014 | read full post »

form, poetry, and the empty cup
I spent the day researching obscure poetic forms.  And it was enormous fun -- thinking about what to pour into those elegant white cups of structure. Along the way, I wrote this poem for my sisters (the least structured of women). But we'll get to the poem in a moment. Because what's important i

posted 3:41:38pm Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

poetry, structure, and creative beginner's heart
Last night, discussing structure and writing with my elder son, I said I couldn't write w/ too much structure. That writing is -- for me -- a discovery process. Structure, I told him, can actually kill my ide

posted 3:03:47pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

what a difference a day makes (and other ways I wish I was like my grandson)
My grandson burnt his hands Sunday. Not horribly, but badly enough that he cried inconsolably for hours. Today? He's his usual sunny self: slapping the Cheerios on the highchair

posted 3:01:12pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.