Thursday, July 23, 2009

Signs of the times

Savannah's obsession with Iceland really gives me pause. But I suppose there's many other things, worse things, to be obsessed with. Leeches. Twilight. Fleetwood Mac...wait, she's obsessed with that one, too.

I don't know where it comes from. Of course, I don't know where any of Savannah's thoughts come from, but I am glad at least that she has discovered in her Icelandophobia the group Sigur Ros. If you haven't listened to the music from this group, I can tell you it is... well, I don't know, because the CD has the uncanny ability to render me unconcious before the first song is finished. Which isn't a good thing when driving down the highway.

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on Savannah's obsession. I have developed a few of my own, usually in those long hours of not sleeping. Here's one: every day. Everyday. Ok, so that's two. Which is my point, exactly-- most of the time, when someone uses the term everyday, they mean every day but write everyday. One is a phrase consisting of an adjective, every, describing a noun, day. The other is an adjective, everyday, describing another noun, say... everyday hero; everyday events; I am everyday people. Seems pretty straight forward, but every day (yes, two words) when I drive into town, I am greeted with a sign outside the local hardware store that proudly proclaims:


It's enough to make me want to pull Sadie over, whip out a pair of scissors-- or a knife-- cut the sign down the middle between "every" and "day", and then separate them by a few planks of the fence. But, I know improper word usage is no excuse for destruction of property.

Closely related to this obsession is my struggle with the peculiar habit we have of verbizing nouns. No, verbizing isn't a word, but if we can turn the noun "text" into a verb, I can create any word I want.

I'm not one of those prudish English teachers who thinks the language is being destroyed. In fact, I am in awe of the flexibility of a language that can adapt and shape new words where there were none before. Savannah tells me this couldn't happen in Latin. I'll take her word for it. It's another one of her obsessions, so she would be much more equipped to discuss that than me. BUT- as an English person,I have a certain amount of academic curiosity about the phenomenom.

All languages are rule-governed. This is why we spend inordinate and frankly wasteful hours drilling our children on rules such as verb tense. A speaker of the language knows not to say "I writed you yesterday." He or she knows, likewise, not to say "I is here." Unfortunately, many haven't learned not to say, "I seen him," but let's stay with the obsession at hand.

So, if language is rule-governed, how are we to handle the issue of verbizing a noun? Nouns don't have tense. Therefore, if a noun like "text" is suddenly used as a verb, as in "I will text you," then what rule do we follow-- sending a text is a form of writing. I wouldn't say to you, "I writed you, but you didn't answer..." I would say "I wrote you..." On the other hand, a text is sent on a phone, but I wouldn't say, "I coll you last night." Is the proper rule for the past-tense of text "texted," or "toxt"? Neither comes off the tongue easily.

How in the name of all that is good is someone suppose to learn to speak English? WE don't even know the rules; we're making them up as we go!

The Northern Squee

It. Is. Here.

Icelandic: Grammar, Texts, Glossary by Stefan Einarsson.

And it. Is. Magical.

Letting out a big cheer and a big squee for the arrival of the mighty blue book of Northern Germanic language. What a sacred day of days. July 23, 2009: you are a special date. The date that Iceland comes to New Mexico, which serves as the backdrop for my skit "When Iceland Met New Mexico."






Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hang up and flush!

I don't sleep well lately. I either have a difficult time getting to sleep, or once there I have a hard time staying that way. I wake anywhere between 1:30 and 5:00 am and lie in bed making deals with myself: "If I go to sleep right now, I can still get five hours...If I fall asleep now, I can make it tomorrow on three hours..." and so on.

But it's not the lack of sleep that gets me. It's the things I obsess over while lying there that really wear me out. Last night's example-- cell phones in public restrooms.

A few months ago I ducked into a restroom at the college. I enclosed myself in my stall, and then heard the woman in the stall next to me ask, "What did you tell him?"

"Excuse me?" I replied, more than a little confused. "That's what I told him, but he won't listen to me!"

And then I realized the woman wasn't speaking to me at all, but rather to someone on her cell phone. I was stunned, and thought perhaps I was mistaken, but then I heard the tinny, far-away voice responding to her. After I got over my initial shock, I found myself in a predicament. I was finished with my business, but now I didn't know what to do. Do I flush, or do I wait? I think I missed the memo on proper cell phone etiquette on the toilet. If I flush, I give her up to whomever she's talking to. If I wait, she'll think I'm eavesdropping on her conversation. If I just leave the, don't go there.

Then the woman let me off the hook; she flushed. Oh my gosh! What would I do if someone I was talking to on the phone suddenly flushed? I mean, that's like taking me into the stall with them. I don't want to be in the stall with anyone. That's just a little too cozy a friendship for me.

It made me feel only a little better to see the woman wash her hands, phone snuggly cradled between her shoulder and ear.

I would have chalked this up to an anomaly, but I have witnessed similar incidents no less than three times in three different towns. Apparantly we've become a society so technologically plugged in that we feel no need for private space. We are so wired we cannot disconnect for even the most-- personal-- activities. What exactly are we afraid we're going to miss in those few precious moments we spend in the bathroom? On the other hand, maybe there's nothing wrong with the public sharing of private acts-- isn't that what reality tv is built on?

Perhaps I am too old for the 21st century. I don't know. But it's enough to keep me awake at night.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peach trees

In my backyard there is a single peach tree that is so loaded with fruit the branches are touching the ground. It looks painful, frankly. We go out and pick peaches every evening, but there just seems to be more and more. The fruit is small, about a fourth the size of a regular peach, but so sweet it's like eating big peach candies.

We didn't even know we had a peach tree in the backyard until two summers ago. Apparantly, it bears fruit every other summer. Perhaps that's all the energy it has, considering how heavy the branches look.

This spring I was surprised to discover I also have a small cherry tree. There's nothing quite like the adventure that is my backyard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Aztec Ruins 2008

The poet must be willing
to pull off her shoulders
the warm blanket
walk into the unknown
hear the story
the cottonwood whispers and wander
with the red ant
wherever it leads.

The poet must be willing
to get dirty
to scrabble around the rubble of words
scuffing her knees scraping
her elbows breaking her nails
to dig out a sliver of crystal
imbedded in hard rock soil.

The poet must be willing
to rub the dirt from it
line it up with the last
and the last and the last
until she stands in the shadow
of an eternal wall
true and straight.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hostile Takeover: A Press Release

Miss Rivas, offspring of Ms. Hinson, has taken over for this current blog posting due to her mother's inability to remain faithful to her electronic undertaking. Miss Rivas would like to note that Ms. Hinson has spent the better part of the past week saying, "I'll get to it when the creative juices start flowing," evidently forgetting that it's a freaking log and, de facto, Miss Rivas would like to summon a list of topics for her mother to write about:
  • the neighborhood cat who, depending on who you ask, is either named Grace Slick or Julia Hope
  • her future writing projects
  • her support of women's rights (who doesn't want a human rights log?)
  • bad essays from surprisingly endearing students
  • Iceland
  • the pursuit of a quality pen
  • movie, book, and music reviews
  • places to travel
  • poems, short stories, outlines, et cetera
  • the wonder that is Iceland
  • Iceland the Third
  • Norway's not bad...
  • Jet
  • Albuquerque and the sunsets that set over New Mexico and its freakishly large tarantulas
  • a fake business letter

Miss Rivas would like for it to be known that there really is no shortage of topics; the world is full of things to write about.