Plaudits

plaudit

noun. plau·dit \ ˈplȯ-dət \

1 : an act or round of applause

2 : enthusiastic approval —usually used in plural

  • received the plaudits of the critics

Plaudit is one of my favorite words. I wish it were used more often. I love the sound of it, but I especially love the sentiment behind the term. It’s all about giving credit where credit is due. That doesn’t seem to happen enough these days. Those who take the time to make the world a better place, even if they aren’t looking for kudos, deserve applause as far as I’m concerned.

There are so many opportunities to show appreciation to people. Do you take those opportunities? Have you thanked someone today?

Here are some plaudits that I’m sure everyone can agree with:

  • To all veterans and first responders for being heroes.

  • To teachers, for spreading knowledge and influencing all of us to be the best we can be.

  • To volunteers, for being so generous with their time.

  • To owners of rescue animals, for saving lives and providing them with safety and love.

  • To artists, for making life worth living for the rest of us in so many ways.

  • To friends, for being supportive.

  • To farmers, for providing us with sustenance.

  • To writers, for making us think.

  • To listeners, for listening.

And I’d like to send out a very personal and heartfelt plaudit to you, dear reader, for making this blog such a pleasure to write, and for giving me feedback and sharing it with others. I wouldn’t be here without you. So thanks!

Who do you think deserves plaudits?

Plaudits

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Whelmed

Two of my pet peeves are the words “irregardless” and “orientate”. Why people don’t find the words “regardless” and “orient” sufficient is beyond me. Irregardless wasn’t even considered an official word until quite recently. Then, to my dismay, it slowly started creeping into dictionaries one by one. (Probably because the keepers of dictionaries were getting tired of arguing about it.)

So you can use these words, and you’ll be right. But why? Why make things more complicated, more syllabic, than they have to be? Life is too short, people. Less is more.

I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the foolishness of it all, and then the word “overwhelmed” slapped me right across the face. In order to be overwhelmed, you must first be capable of being whelmed, right? So I looked it up.

whelm

verb

archaic literary

past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed

  1. engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).

“a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm”

Okay, so whelm is considered archaic. But why? WHY??? If it means engulf, submerge or bury, if you’re overwhelmed, you’re even more engulfed, more submerged or more buried. How is that even possible?

WHAT IS THE POINT??? Gaaaaaaaah!

I’m feeling whelmed.

whelmed

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I Want “Hension”

There’s apprehension, there’s comprehension, there’s even prehension. All of these words relate to a form of understanding, of “getting it”. (And perhaps, in the case of apprehension, being worried about it because you get it.)

It occurs to me (I really do have too much time on my hands) that this state of enlightenment is probably the most valuable state to be in. When it eludes me, I feel very unsettled. I spend an enormous amount of time trying to understand things.

In other words, I want hension. But, ironically, this suffix is not a word in and of itself. I’ve looked everywhere.

Isn’t that strange? Here’s this priceless commodity, one that many people spend their entire lives seeking, and technically, it doesn’t exist. Maybe some day it will be in the Oxford English Dictionary, and my humble little blog will be credited with its origination. In the mean time, though, we are left with no ability to achieve hension, or at the very least, no way to describe it when we’re there.

My head hurts.

Apprehension

[ap-ri-hen-shuh n]

noun

  1. anticipation of adversity or misfortune; suspicion or fear of future trouble or evil.
  2. the faculty or act of apprehending or understanding; perception on a direct and immediate level.
  3. acceptance of or receptivity to information without passing judgment on its validity, often without complete comprehension.
  4. a view,opinion, or idea on any subject.
  5. the act of arresting; seizure:

comprehension

[kom-pri-hen-shuh n]

noun

  1. the act or process of comprehending.
  2. the state of being comprehended.
  3. perception or understanding:
  4. capacity of the mind to perceive and understand; power to grasp ideas; ability to know.

prehension

[pri-hen-shuh n]

noun

1. the act of seizing or grasping.

2. mental apprehension.

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On Being a Hot Mess

A Canadian friend of mine (waving hello to Sim) was telling me of his various health issues, and I replied, “You’re a hot mess!” Every once in a while my Southern comes out of my mouth. I can’t help it. He had never heard the phrase before, and had to look it up. (Which charmed me to the tips of my toes.)

Out of pure curiosity, I decided to look it up, too. I was really surprised at the wide array of definitions, and none of them seemed to fit the true depth of feeling that this phrase evokes. So what follows is my rambling explanation. (I’d probably be able to be more concise if I weren’t such a hot mess myself.)

First of all, hot mess is not, repeat, not an insult. It’s like saying, “You’ve got so much going on, your life is such a mess, that I don’t know how you function, and yet you do, and I admire that like crazy.” It’s like calling someone a “real piece of work” but stripping all the negativity out of it.

If I consider you a hot mess, I appreciate you. I am also commiserating with you, and laughing with you. Make no mistake, I wouldn’t want to be you, and yet I think I’ve got a whole lot to learn from you about your ability to cope.

When this phrase came into being, it was more a physical comment. It usually referred to those lucky few who could be all scruffy and sloppy and yet still look great. It can still mean that, but over time it has also evolved into a more existential statement about being able to live a complicated, disorganized life with a whole lot of style.

So, mad respect for all those hot messes out there! Welcome aboard! It may be a bumpy ride, but it’s an adventure!

hot mess

Figments and Smithereens

As a writer I spend a lot of time thinking about words. I pride myself on having a fairly large vocabulary. But some words, even I have to admit, have limited use.

Take figment, for example. Have you ever heard this word used in any other context than as a figment of your imagination? If it’s a word, then it has to be a thing, right? But has anyone actually ever seen a figment? No. So even figments are figments of our imagination. Let that sink in for a minute.

If a figment had physical form, I picture it as being an angry, dusty little creature that lurks under your bed and disappears whenever you peek under there. I wouldn’t want to piss off a figment. There’s no telling what would happen. And if you discussed it after the fact, no one would believe you.

And then there’s smithereens. Not singular, mind you. Never singular. It is a word that is only proper in the plural. That is confounding, because in order to be plural, there has to be a bunch of single things grouped together, right? But look in any dictionary and you will only find it in the plural. So I guess if you separate all the smithereens, they cease to exist. And that’s another word I’ve only heard in one particular phrase: Blown to smithereens. As if it were a place. If it is a place, I don’t think it’s somewhere I would want to go. It’s probably a mess.

Just a few random thoughts from someone with entirely too much time on her hands.

So I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

-Edgar Allan Poe

figment

[Image credit: imgfave.com]

Have an Awful Day

It’s fascinating how the definition of some words evolves over time to signify the opposite of their original meaning. Awful originally meant “full of awe.” I miss that definition. If we allowed awful to fulfill its original role, people would stop saying awesome. I, for one, would be thrilled, because awesome is a word which annoys me for purely aesthetic reasons, although I admit I have resorted to using it more than once myself.

But as usual, I digress. I would like you, dear reader, to have a day full of awe. Take a moment every once in a while today to come to a complete halt. If you need a reminder to do this thing that is so foreign to your routine, set the alarm on your cell phone if you must, but take the opportunity to let this fast-paced world in which we live swirl around you and past you while you stand still and look around. Become the still point in the turning world. You will be amazed at what you see.

I’m talking about stopping to smell the roses writ large. Appreciate the flowers at your feet, yes, but also the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and the clothes upon your back and the food on your plate. Be grateful for your health if you have it, and your friends and your coworkers and the fact that you get to be here, right here, right now, breathing and living. That’s a very significant accomplishment, and it takes a lot of intricate things falling into place just right in order for it to be possible.

Appreciate the complexity of life. Appreciate the simplicity of life. Realize that graffiti can often be beautiful and even the most irritating situation has something to teach you. Use all five of your senses if you can, and enjoy the fact that you have them.

It would be easy to take the next step and start talking about spirituality and higher powers and all the religious trappings that go with those. But for this moment, this “right here”, just this once, don’t focus on that. Just concentrate on feeling the awe of this amazing gift you’ve been given, without trying to read the return address on the package.

Here’s wishing you a truly, wondrously, spectacularly awful day!

awe_space

[Image credit: magicalthinkingbook.com]