April 2018

Friday, June 18, 2010

NL #42: Words, words, words.

NL #42: When I went into brain surgery, my biggest fear was not that I would die. My biggest fear was that I would lose my sense of myself. Fortunately, I seem to have sustained little cognitive disruption. I do from time to time notice struggles, though. I seem unable, for example, to maintain and keep up with a calendar, so I'm always having to call my various health care providers to ask them when my appointment is. Once, I called one woman three times in a row. She maintained her sense of humor, but I'm not sure how much longer that might have lasted.

Sometimes I can't find words that I don't use especially often. As a logophile, this is a new experience for me, and it can be frustrating. I remember where and when I learned certian favorite words like other people remember their favorite song from seventh grade. When I was in junior high school, my aunt Myra joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. She marvelled at the words "gauche" and "panache" which she had just learned. In eighth grade my favorite word was "dappled" and in ninth grade it was "mnemonic." As a new teacher my favorite was "penultimate" because it came in handy so often and later "detritus" because it, too, came in handy. As a college junior in Ireland, my favorite word was "conundrum." I think I had known it before, but I loved it when my taxi driver entered an existential wondering and kept craning his head to say to me, "It's a conundrum." As a teacher in an urban public school, I've loved "Snaps!"

A few weeks ago, I couldn't remember the word for "fire extinguisher," so I had to call it "that red thing we sprayed when I set the kitchen on fire" (by mistake. another story. It was a long time ago.) I sounded like David Sedaris and his international French  class as they tried to explain their religious traditions to one another: "The Jesus boy. He good."

Last week, sending a colleague an email, I couldn't remember the word "split," so I rearranged the sentence and used "bifurcation." Why can I remember "bifurcation" and I can't remember "split"? Should be interesting trying to order a banana bifurcation at the Baskin Robbins in North Carolina. I remember "Baskin Robbins."

Joan. Sally. No...Mary

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