Sunday, January 22, 2012

Words With Friends

Age 1, playfully stealing my father's newspaper.
Even as an infant, I was already obsessed with words!
My mop-headed 6-year old stumbled downstairs at 6:30 this morning and assaulted me with two tribulations at once:  the first was breath that smelled like a three-day-old roast beef sandwich, and the second was a question. "Mom, is fuck a bad word?"  I, of course, responded as any responsible parent would, "Yes, Charlie, it's a terrible word, and don't fucking ever say it again."  No, I'm kidding, but it did get me to percolating.  I write, so I am constantly thinking about words -- how they sound together, how they flow, what they convey.  But, what I don't think about often enough is their extreme potency.  For they are powerful, conveying hurt, anger, love, jealousy, you name it.  And I, for one, have never shied away from swear words, but I do try to tone it down a little in my posts, because, even though they no longer have much shock value to me, they still are somewhat affronting for the rest of the mainstream population.  My girlfriends and I sometimes try to make up our own swear words, usually unsuccessfully. I am questioning whether I should list a few of these or not...and I think the answer in my head is a resounding not.  I actually did start to write a few of the humdingers down, and then I thought of my dad, who really is kind of a prude, and who admonishes me every time I use the f-bomb in a post (although he keenly maintains that the words "asshole," bitch," and "shit" are perfectly acceptable -- um, duh).  So, in order to stay in his good graces, I guess I better err on the side of caution.

Swear words aside, what I think I'm getting at is that words in general have become more extreme, more consequential than ever before.  Not only is my son a good six years younger than I was when I first encountered the f-word, but the words we say themselves are more impacting to our own personal characters.  Racial slurs, of course, are taboo, but even those are somewhat confusing these days.  For instance, my daughter sells Girl Scout cookies, and the name of the caramel/coconut confection that was once known as the "Samoa" had to be changed because it was politically incorrect.  Okay, I get that, but then the name it was changed to, "Tagalong," also had to be changed because that, too, was politically incorrect.  Wait, what?  So now the confused little cookie goes by the oddly spelled "Caramel deLite," which ALSO happens to be a popular menu item among the business set at Treasures Strip Club (don't ask me why I know that, I just do).  Meanwhile, those sneaky little Girl Scouts threw in the titillating "Shout Out," and the ever-satisfying "Thanks-A-Lot," which I prefer to indulge in that exaaaact order, although how this exactly relates to racial slurs, I'm not quite sure.  

Okay, Sarah, focus, focus...oh, that's right, back to words (because they are just so fascinating!  This blog topic is really bizarre.).  Anyway, we are living in a world where we are texting and talking on our cells everywhere.  Just yesterday I saw a teenage girl riding her bike in heavy traffic, head-down and with no hands, which were furiously punching away at her Blackberry.  This obvious member of mensa also happened to have on her i-pod headphones, and might as well have been straight-ironing her hair with her toes she was so distracted.  Do we really need to keep in CONSTANT communication with our friends/business associates/pimps at all hours of the day?  (Personally, I like to keep my pimp guessing my whereabouts, just for kicks.)  Now, don't get me wrong, I am a victim of this madness just as much as the next person.  I am in my car for hours on end, and if I'm not texting, I'm emailing, and if I'm not emailing, I'm yakking, and if I'm not yakking, I'm beer-bonging.  Oh, whoops, that's not related to words!  Okay, I'm joking, but I AM feeling super weird and silly today, probably because of all the electromagnetic cell waves that are rotting away at what used to be left of my brain.

All this technology at our fingertips has been a gift in many ways, but it has also been a curse.  I have caught myself innumerable times looking down at my cell phone, when, instead, I should be looking at the world around me.  I love words and I love writing, but sometimes I need to take a break from all the screens everywhere and reconnect with the natural environment.  Additionally, I am incredibly free-flowing with my words, so I have very few hesitations when it comes to what I'll write -- probably in an effort to interact with all of you.  I have let you in to my life and background in so many ways, and, perhaps sometimes I've offended you with my bluntness or, perhaps sometimes I've entertained you.  I know these words that are perpetually moving and shifting around me are something I was given to communicate with the world around me.  I just have to remember that sometimes not communicating and just being and observing is part of the equation also.  It is connecting in a way that email and texting cannot -- it is connecting to our inner and outer selves.

And, peace, beauty, yada yada yada, and...OH MY GOD, IS THAT MY CELL RINGING?!?  Grab it, Bella, it might be the computer guy!!!

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!