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The fact that my Mother had Alzheimer’s when she died niggles at my swiss-cheesy brain sometimes.

I have always said that I have a mind like a steel sieve, especially since that unfortunate head injury on Easter Sunday some 20 years ago. (Only Tug, the best dog in the universe, was there to witness it, and he took my secret to the Rainbow Bridge.) But sometimes, I am more aware of my inability to retain things than at other times.  It’s been an interesting adjustment for MKL, who has the memory of an elephant (and elephants have 10 1/2 pound brains with large, multiple-fold temporal lobes). He must be frustrated by the apparent empty space between my ears.  He’s a grand storyteller, and often says, “Do you remember when I told you about….” or “I think I shared with you….”  My unfortunate response is (way too often) “I don’t remember that!”  On the plus side, it means that most things are new over and over again, and for me, that’s okay. But I do hate that it seems like I haven’t been listening to him, because I have. I love love love his voice. And his stories.

While I have grown comfortable with my forgetfulness, my brain is offering up a new twist lately – mistaking words.  For example, on a Comcast commercial tonight, they were advertising a “Multilatino” package for those viewers who wish to see more channels in Spanish.  I saw that word and read it as “Mutilatinos” – as in a combination of the words “mutilated” and “latinos” – which is awful all by itself.

And here’s another example. In that first paragraph, where I was talking about elephants? I originally wrote “elephone”. And where I wrote elephants? I wrote “elephonats”.  It’s corrected now, but seriously….WTF?

This is just the most recent example of something that seems to happen to me all the time.

And while this one is not my fault, it is one of my current favorites.

I prefer my wi-fi to have bacon. Actually, I prefer everything to have bacon.

These days, if I’m going to comment on something, or read it aloud, I always make sure I do a double-take before I say anything. Better safe than stupid. Or with a besocked foot in my mouth. Either way.

This could just be a normal aging thing, like my increasing tendency to look for my sunglasses when they are on my head, or double checking to be sure I’m still wearing earrings – both of which, now that I write that, indicate that perhaps I am just unconsciously checking to be sure that my head is still attached. I’m not ruling that out.

As I am within licking distance of the half-century mark, I wonder if this is more of a problem or a symptom, than a quirk. I’m pretty sure I should start journaling in a more detailed fashion, and doing crossword puzzles. That’s what seemed to keep my Mom’s brain clicking. Not Sudoku, though, because not only do I not know how to pronounce it, it makes me want to shoot everything in sight. Not good.

Of course, I can’t recall any more recent incidents even though they happen often (there’s some irony for you, huh?)  Which doesn’t make for as interesting post as if I did remember them. But you get what you get.

So what about you? Are you “of a certain age”? Do you have similar word foibles? Don’t worry, share away…I most likely won’t remember.

Words are the strongest tool in the world.  Amazing how such a seemingly mundane thing – language – can have the power to strengthen someone or bring them to their knees.

If you spoke to me in Russian, I wouldn’t have a clue what you were saying.  Say the same words in a language I understand, and they can bring me to tears or make my heart sing.

How much do we hear, really? Is it not just the words themselves? As someone joked in a meeting last week, “I don’t use letters.  I use words.”  Another attendee responded, “Jack, you do know that words are made up of letters, right?” 

Yes, words are made up of  letters.  Letters themselves have no power.  In fact words themselves are powerless.  Read a word in a dictionary and it is flat.  It is… just a word.  But hear it spoken from the lips of someone for whom you care, or whom you view in a position of power, its meaning is infinitely altered. (And historically has been the source of all trouble in the world.)  It is not just the tone, though that plays a part.  Which leads me to wonder if the power of words is as strong if one uses sign language.  It’s not just the context in which the words are spoken, the circumstances – no, it’s stil more than that. 

It is the soul behind the words.  Perhaps that’s what demarcates the difference between writers – how much of their own soul goes into the words upon a page.  How much of their own truth are they willing to own. 

How much are most people willing to look at their words and say,”I own that.  I speak my truth.  And now I’m brave enough to live it.” 

I am.  I don’t know a lot of truths about life anymore, but that I do know. When I say a thing, I mean it, heart and soul. I like that about me. I tend to hold the rest of the world to my own standards.  I don’t know if that is fair, but I suspect most of us do so regardless..  I can make excuses for other people until the cows come home.  (I know that about me too.)

Does that mean that I shouldn’t always believe what I am told?  When I believe words that resonate within my own heart, am I being naive?  Or am I having faith?  Those who believe the words of the Bible can look around them and recognize that the actions of the world don’t fit the words in the good Book.  Yet they still have faith in those words.  Why should it be any different for any other set of words in which we have invested faith?

Just a thing for Thursday contemplation….

Every writer is on a quest for the perfect pen.

It doesn’t matter if I use a keyboard for 95% of my writing.  I’m still seeking that one instrument that will add magic to my words, that will be a direct conduit to the muse.  Anyone who writes has been through this, I think.  Even as a child, I was particular.  My crayons had to have some kind of point.  I mean, we all know that AMAZING feeling when you open a brand-new box of crayons, right?  It’s like a world of perfect, pristine rainbows with endless possibilities.  (If only we could view every day that way – except it’s a little over-the-top bedazzled unicorn-y.) 

Graduating to pencils, I was still particular.  #2 Eberhard Fabers or Ticonderogas were the standard.  Remember how we always had to fill in the little circles (completely) on our standardized tests using a #2 pencil?  The computerized reader would be unable to read a #1 or #3.  I hated #3 pencils.  Far too light.  As if you weren’t committed to your words.  I loved #1 pencils – dark, firm, strong, but we could almost never find them in the stores, and when we did, well, they weren’t the requisite #2’s, so we didn’t buy them.  And I was enchanted by those pens that had about a dozen little points that you could push through from top-to-bottom – but they were expensive, and so not in the family budget.  I was truly envious of the girls in fourth grade who had them.

Pens are generally kept far away from children.  I could be the poster child for why this is the case.  At the tender age of about 3, I accessed one of my Dad’s ubiquitous Flair Pens – a red one – and wrote my numbers, 1 through 10, on the pale green living room wall right above the couch early one morning before anyone else was up.  I did my three backwards but I was so proud.  I went to wake up my Mom to show her.  She was great – she could see how thrilled I was to have achieved this accomplishment.  I vaguely remember her shock, and some very slight praise.  I do not remember being scolded or punished, though knowing my Mom, I’m sure she explained the error of my ways to me.  After that, the pens then were eternally out of reach.  I guess everyone learned a lesson that morning.  And the numbers stayed there on the wall for perhaps seven years, until the living room was repainted.

Back in the 1960s, pens were experiencing an evolution.  They were moving from the fountain pen era to the ball point pen era, with Flair pens being the latest and greatest.  Of course, now we have gel pens, rollerballs, stick pens, click pens.  And that’s where the writer’s dilemma occurs.  What is the pen for my hand, and mine alone?

I’ve found some that I like.  Unfortunately, the ones that I like the most have been displaying a tendency to leak.  While having ink stains on my fingers makes me feel more like a writer, I don’t like it.  They take forever to come off and having ink leakages in purses and backpacks is a true pain.  They’ve certainly given my backpack some character, but if I get caught in a rainstorm, I find that the ink stains get wet and leap onto my hips where my backpack rests, like a shipwreck victim straining  for dry land.

Pens seem to have a mind of their own, which means that have the ability to independently decide where they want to go – which means they mysteriously vanish.  When I was gainfully employed, I would buy nice pens for myself for work.  If they made it home, I know that Pat was the vehicle for their disappearance, even though he rarely wrote anything down. 

I was the proud owner of a Mont Blanc pen for a short while.  It was a gift, and I’d had it about a month, when my boss asked me about it, because she had lost an identical Mont Blanc pen.  She didn’t come out and say it, but she clearly thought I had stolen hers.  And sure enough, it vanished about a week later.  Ah, well.  It was a lovely pen, but a little fat for my fingers.

I am still searching for the perfect pen for me.  Since pens continue to evolve, when I find one I like, I have to buy in bulk because it will morph into something different sooner rather than later.  I have five pen pots in the house, and they get emptier and emptier daily (I was noticing this yesterday) as the pens emigrate to who-knows-where. 

And I will continue my quest, which may take me from quill pen to astronaut pen, until I find the one, the one that is so connected to me that the ink is just my own cerebral fluid flowing from the nib.

(And FYI, this last photo is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.)

September 2020


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