Monthly Archives: May 2014


As a writer and a lover of words, I am a purist about my vocabulary and a bit hyper-vigilant about my word choices and the word choices of my children and grandchildren and even innocent bystanders I pass on the street, or hear on their cell phones in Walgreens. This universal phenomenon deserves an entire post of its own, by the way. Not my snooping on others’ conversations but the fact that they think I want to hear their cell phone chatter.  I was beside a woman in my local grocery store recently who was talking to a friend (I hope) about the results of her pap smear.  Really??! I bee lined from spices to dairy before I could hear the sordid details of her latest STD or her sex life. Neither, or the thought of someone else’s cooter, was anything I have interest in while picking up ingredients for chicken artichoke.

But on to my self-perceived impeccable vocabulary.  It has developed a tragic flaw, and ugly fracture in its well protected veneer.

I have begun to say “awesome” at everything.  I mean everything.  A worse case than the middle school kids I hear waiting at the bus stop. Not eavesdropping.  They all yell.

If my daughter says her baby learned to ride a scooter, I’m all “awesome.”

If the wireless phone bill  is under a hundred dollars, it’s “awesome.”

If my car is fixed and still under warranty, it’s “totally awesome.”

New shoes, new dress, fresh peaches, light turns green, no rain in the forecast–it’s all suddenly, amazingly “awesome” to me.

It took me a bit for this to sink in, this ridiculous overuse of a word so cliche in our society, I might as well be saying “whatever” (which my eldest might argue also needs some work) or “literally.” Gone is the true meaning of this word that implies reverence or admiration or majesty and in has crept this teeny bopper, Justin Beiber of a word that pops up at least once a conversation in my daily speech.

When I realized this I was horrified.  I think it happened one evening when my husband chuckled back to me (and he is not much of a chuckler or a responder at all past 7:00 PM) with something like, “Was it awesome or totally awesome?” Man, he might as well have told me I had ended a sentence in a preposition or said, my all time bugaboo in American speech, “with Jane and I.” One of Bryant Gumbel’s favorite ways to sign off before a commercial on the old Today Show.  It’s “me,” Bryant, “me.” For me, to me , at me, after me, with me.  It was enough to make me flip the station to CBS.

So husband’s point made, verbal gaff noticed, I have spent the last week trying to irradicate “awesome” from my vocabulary, and truth be told, I cannot tell you how painful it has been.  And alarming.

First of all, so many of the replacement words have been equally overused to near extinction of meaning.

“Excellent” started in Wayne and Garth’s basement on SNL and went on to permeate conversation as the pat response for anything from “dinner’s ready” to “the sky is clearing.”

“Nice” has taken on a whole new meaning of superiority in all things hip and cool and must be said in a long slow breath of appreciation rather than casually quipped as in, “N-i-c-e.”

“Great” has been a bit tarnished by taking on it’s opposite meaning as in, “The movie is sold out.”  “Great.”

So for now I am going with “wonderful” and “lovely.” Haven’t noticed them being bastardized by rapper’s jargon or adorable Jimmy Fallon’s opening monologue.

But, give ’em time.  Until then, I am going to enjoy the rest of this lovely day and tell my son I hope his trip to Mexico is wonderful.

And save awesome for when I finally see Mount Rushmore.


Mother’s Day thoughts…

A mother’s love and its eternal challenge:

“It’s come at last,”she thought, “the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache.”

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

“‘Can anything harm us, mother, after the night-lights are lit?’

‘Nothing, precious,’ she said; ‘they are the eyes a mother leaves behind her to guard her children.’”

Peter Pan

Blue funk

You may have wondered why you haven’t heard from me in awhile.  I have been in a blue funk.  Appears this is a yearly phenomenon as you have seen two past March entries of similar post-winter doldrums.  And given the winter we recently survived in Chicago, I must say I am amazed that I am still standing at all.

My last post was the beginning of my downward spiral, talking about back aches, stiff knees and hip replacements rearing their ugly heads. No, life beyond our forties, ain’t for the faint of heart. And it’s downright exhausting. Just rolling out of bed in the morning (something for years I arrogantly took for granted) is an event in itself and getting through the day in one piece becomes an accomplishment.

So much to my surprise, my turn around from poor pitiful middle-aged me was a simple thing. Most of life’s “ah-ha” moments are seemingly nothing moments and often unexpected.

But in the flick of a wrist, I am back.

I swatted a fly mid-air and killed it.  And believe me, the fly was as stunned as I was.

It was one of those huge black and green-striped things that spontaneously combust from every crevice in your house right as spring is springing. God knows where they lurk all winter but first warm day with a hint of above sixty and out they pop, the size of small dive bombers, flying in frenzied circuits all over the house and then dopily banging into windows as they run out of gas.

Mine, of course, was in its first rush of post-hibernation exuberance which made my victory all the more satisfying. I was walking toward the computer to actually attempt a post on a completely different subject, which now escapes me.  Another sign of being “on in years.”

Anyway this fly, or small bird, was wildly circling the office, the roar of his buzzing louder than the tinnitus in my ears (don’t even get me started) and in a flash,  I knew my moment had come.

I dashed to the kitchen and returned armed with my swatter.  I had a few failed attempts at ensuring his demise, using perfectly precisioned swats on his ADD intermittent touch downs, but missing.

Then, I felt a burst of confidence.  A return of my youthful devil-may-care entusiasm and throwing caution to the wind, I smacked at him mid-flight and with that, he fell to the ground. No buzzing.  No irritating attempts at another take -off.  Dead. Done.

After a few victory laps around the room, my warrior weapon thrust proudly in the air, I sat down with the swatter swinging lazily from my fingers.  A sort of a post tennis match pose the pros use when their opponant is dripping in sweat and the victor is calmly pondering his racket in mock humility.

And I thanked that fly.  I thanked him for helping me get my mojo back.  He was a sign of spring, rebirth, renewed energy and in spite of the fact that I squelched all that good stuff for him, my moment of athletic prowess was just what I needed to reemerge myself.  To remember that there is more juice in this engine and plenty of miles to cover on the road ahead.

I fell asleep quickly and slept soundly, for the first night in weeks. New hope welled in my chest and other than the bag of ice I have tied to my game point elbow this morning, I am a new woman.

Tonight, I am sleeping with my swatter by my bed.

Next victory, I might  start that novel.