Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Words

While Andrew and I have been apart, we have relied almost exclusively on one form of communication: writing letters. What a slow and tedious process! The effort it takes to write each word, to spell it correctly without using spell check, to think about what I actually WANT to say before I start writing...the process has felt arduous at times.

And yet never before have I said so clearly what I mean to say. Not something close to it. Not the first cliche phrase that comes to mind so as to avoid (God forbid!) awkward silence. But what I actually mean to say.

What a bad steward of language I am. Language! One of God's most magnanimous gifts. The English language! So rich in history that it would include the King James Bible. And yet I settle for my good, great and cools. As if no experience would ever merit a more prolific word. Not to mention my likes, ya knows and whatevers--just to make sure I never make a distinction someone might be able to argue with. And I won't even mention my hyperboles (how many times have I said I am going to kill something?).

How I want to care more for words. To be someone who speaks with clarity and precision. That may mean learning a few new words, reading a few more good (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) books and processing things a little slower, but I believe these things matter. Language matters. Being able to say what we mean matters.

I hope that I can learn to be a better steward of language. And if not of language, then at least of silence where, as Marilyn Chandler McEntrye writes, "the best words begin."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Speak Friend and Enter

It seems travelling has become something of a hazard these days. With the H1N1 epidemic, we are cautioned to wear medical masks, carry hand sanitizer and as always, avoid touching things.

While on our way to Hawaii a few weeks ago, I was battling a bad case of bronchitis-death. Kari and Sarah can attest to the fact that I tried to find a mask to cover my face so that when people heard me coughing on the plane, they would see I respect their personal health boundaries. Apparently they don't sell medical masks in the airport. They do however, sell H1N1 masks online. They look like this:

The problem is, nobody warns you about flesh particle diseases. I too did not know the dangers of the skin associated with older Hawaiian men. Apparently it has a chaffing/flaking ratio of 10:1 compared to the normal human. Take for instance this friendly man who sat across the aisle from Kari. I know you can't see him super well but he's got on purple running shorts...a white tank top...a fanny pack? Sounds like a good time to me.

False. After he stood up and more or less "mooned" Kari, he gave his body a good ol' shake resulting in this winter wonderland:

I might take The Mines of Moria over this. Perhaps it may be better to go around with all over body protection when travelling:

At least we had fun in Hawaii.