Word # 7 – Detritus

It has become apparent to me that I need to change what I call these little vocabulary lessons because “Word of the Week” is definitely misleading.  I have no idea what to call it.  How about “Random Vocabulary by Crystal?”  Haha! I’m just kidding…  But seriously, any ideas???



“… Good intentions buried in the detritus of daily life.”

Again, I draw another word from my beloved Nicholas Sparks.  I apologize to those of you who don’t care for Sparks’ work or believe I am cheating in some way by “stealing” words from his books.  Mr. Sparks is a writer who desires other writers to read his work.  He has a page for writers on his website and has published workbook versions of some of his novels that include reading guides, character studies, and vocabulary lessons.  I don’t think he minds that I use his words.  In fact, I think he would encourage it.

The above quote comes, again, from Sparks’ book, The Choice (2007, p.135).  This was another word I was not yet familiar with, which is why I marked it for future review when I re-read the book this Summer.  When I read it, the word seemed to mean something along the lines of routine, mundane , or clutter.  I was close but not exactly correct.

noun \di-ˈtrī-təs\

The Oxford Dictionary defines detritus as, “waste or debris of any kind; organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms.”  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says detritus is “the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, or is destroyed.”

The quote from Sparks’ book took on a new meaning for me once I looked up the definition of detritus.  I thought the character was discussing how her busy routine was getting in the way of the things she wished she could do – her hobbies, for instance.  I wasn’t exactly dead-on.  What she was pointing out was the waste in her life, the crap that gets in the way of her happiness.  The text takes on a much more serious tone now that I know what it means.

Ashes, remains, residue, wreckage, crap, debris, froth, refuse, rubbish, scrap, fumes, waste, scum, garbage, junk, and rubble.

The origin is arguably from the Latin detritus. Note, it’s spelled the same in English.  Surprisingly enough, it is also spelled exactly the same in French, which the Oxford Dictionary argues is the root of its 18th Century origin.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says the first known use of the word was in 19th Century France (in the year 1802).

We all struggle with detritus – the debris that clogs up our lives, the crap that gets in the way.  I am especially guilty of letting those little tidbits of silt fill up my time to the point that it increases my anxiety and distracts from what should be more important.

I have struggled with anxiety my whole life.  Those who are more “easy-going” (my boyfriend included) tell me to just calm down and ignore it.  When he catches me nibbling at the corners of my fingernails he always knows I have something on my mind.  I have a tendency to focus on little things that eat at me until they seem much more important than they really are – to the point that I will obsess over the problem until it’s resolved or another bigger problem takes its place.  All of these little…. annoyances make up the detritus of my life, and they produce more detritus by causing me to push things aside that I would love to pay more attention to (my blog, for example).  Thus, a lot of things I would love to enjoy get “buried in the detritus of daily life,” like the book said.

All forms of production produce waste.  For every product there is a byproduct.  When you’re productive, no matter what you’re producing, there will always be detritus.  How do you decide your priorities?  How do you separate the important stuff from the crap?  There’s a certain amount of crap we must all endure in order to get what or where we want.  We put up with crap at work.  I know I certainly do, probably more than most.  At what point do you allow the crap to land in the “crap bin,” as opposed to your lap?  What methods do you use to discern the product from the detritus?

When I was doing my research for this post I noticed one of the online dictionaries asks readers why they looked up that  particular word.  One man posted that he had been cleaning out his friend’s apartment after the friend’s death.  Many of the books and trinkets that seemed to mean so much to the friend early in his life were covered in dust and the man thought it such a waste.  He wondered at what point the important things had taken the back seat in his friend’s life.  Ironically enough, I watched the move “The Big Chill” last night.  (It was on the free On Demand movies.)  My boyfriend kept reminding me it was a character study.  He also taught me that “Alex” (the dead friend) was “played” by Kevin Costner.  (If you’ve seen the movie you know that you never see Alex’s face, only his body.)  The story is about a group of college friends who haven’t seen much of each other in years, until one of their friends kills himself and they all get together for his funeral.  They spend the weekend pondering why their friend died and looking closely at their own lives.  They all seem to have something missing.  They all seem so “busy” with their lives away from each other, but when looking closer, much of their lives are filled with crap that doesn’t matter -detritus.

Again, I draw back to my “Epitaph” post.  What will be left of you when you’re gone?  Will people see the product of your life or will the byproduct overshadow product?  My hope is that my worth will outweigh the rubbish.

Until next time…

Detritus. Dictionary.Cambridge.org. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/detritus

Detritus. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/detritus

Detritus. (n.d.). OxfordDictionaries.com. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/detritus

Image retrieved from: http://www.google.com/imgres?sa=X&biw=1525&bih=685&tbm=isch&tbnid=1nl3qpjsshqKJM:&imgrefurl=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/9088461/Moby-Duck-by-Donovan-Hohn-review.html&docid=VPZh1W77MPxqJM&imgurl=http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02141/moby-duck-illo_2141813b.jpg&w=620&h=388&ei=h-ZaUtfQJOHhygHqs4HQAw&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:51,s:0,i:243&iact=rc&page=3&tbnh=175&tbnw=283&start=49&ndsp=27&tx=154&ty=69


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Word of the “Week” #6: Flummoxed


I have a confession to make.  I am the world’s most inconsistent blogger.  In my defense, I did warn you I would be inconsistent in my very first post.  This doesn’t excuse my inconsistencies but at least I warned you.  Transparency is one of my best characteristics, even if the only thing I am consistent with is my inability to be consistent.  I wish I had one single really fantastic reason for my month-long absence.  I don’t.  I have a plethora of small excuses, none of which are all that interesting to you, I am sure.  They include family obligations, busy weekends, moving, preventing cat fights (literally), and changes at work.  That’s just life, I suppose, but it got in the way regardless.


I believe to be even a moderately decent writer that one must first be an avid reader.  After all, if you write and never read, how much of a hypocrite are you?  It’s like someone who always talks and never listens.  He/she probably doesn’t keep many friends, and a writer who always writes and never reads will likely not have many readers.  You have to sort of return the favor, pay it forward.

That said, this week’s WOW was inspired by Nicholas Sparks.  Yes, he is that guy who writes mushy love stories which are almost always turned into chick flicks.  Many people might say he is one step away from becoming a smut novelist, but I believe he is an excellent (and tasteful) writer. I admire him not as much for his stories as for his writing style,  the way he molds words into beautiful scenes and descriptive situaitons.  Readers can see themselves standing on the sidelines of his stories because of his amazing ability to use strong words and weave them into tapestries of language, emotion, and drama.  He makes the “same old crap” seem brand new with every story because he knows how to turn a phrase, how to describe characters in a way that makes them seem real.  They are our neighbors, family members, and friends.  The way he describes the scenery is even more in depth.  I have never been to the Carolinas (where most of his books are set), but I feel that I have vacationed there my whole life after reading his stories. (I own all but one of his books – the latest.)  Even if you’re not into love stories, I highly suggest his memoir “Three Weeks With My Brother” (2004).  I know several men who have read it and loved it!


Flummoxed is an adjective, roughly meaning confused or disoriented.  The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2003) defines flummoxed as “bewildered or perplexed”.  It lists the synonyms:  baffled, confused, puzzled, stumped, lost at sea, at a loss, mystified, stymied, and bamboozled.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says flummoxed simply means “confused” and says other words for flummoxed include: addled, befuddled, beaten, bemused, disoriented, muddled, or discombobulated.

I’ll be honest. I had no idea what flummoxed meant when I first read it. The way Mr. Sparks used the word allowed me to guess that it meant “confused”, but I made a note to look it up later.  After doing the research, I considered that perhaps there were others who would be just as confused (or flummoxed) by the word as well.  I was especially convinced of this when my boyfriend asked what my new word would be.  When I told him, he said, “I have no idea what that means.”  My response, “That’s the point.”

I researched six different dictionary and vocabulary sources, including the University of Phoenix student library.  I am a UOPX alumnus and have lifelong access to their resources.  When I couldn’t find an origin for flummoxed (or flummox) via the customary web searches I decided to consult the online library.  There was not one single resource that listed an origin for the word.  Isn’t that ironic?  I had to smirk a bit at this realization.  Authors and literary experts are flummoxed as to the origin of “flummoxed”.  However, the Merriam-Webster dictionary did state the first known use of flummoxed was in 1837.  If they don’t know where it came from, I’m not quite sure how they could know when it was used, or even what it means, but there you have it.  

I suppose I consider myself a fairly smart person. I scored high marks all through school, even in college.  Most of my instructors, co-workers, and loved ones come to me when they have questions or need advice. They trust my knowledge and are confident in my ability to seek out a viable solution.  I also have “a good head on my shoulders”. I am not one of those book smart people who has Velcro tennis shoes because I am smart enough to understand quantum physics but can’t tie my shoes.  I have enough street smarts to figure things out on my own most of the time.  However, just like everyone else, there are some concepts that allude me.  I can listen to music, work on my writing, and watch a football game at the same time without ever missing a chance to snap at the cat when she swats at the curtains, but for the life of me I can’t play a musical instrument (not well anyway).  My algebra skills are extraordinary.  I can do math in my head for which most people my age or older would use a calculator but I can barely use my smart phone.  My nephew has Asperger’s Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This means he tests in enough categories for the “experts” to say he definitely has something “wrong” with him but they can’t technically classify him as having Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism).  He can hear a song only once and will have most of it memorized.  He has been able to clap or stamp on beat to every song he hears since before he could walk, but he didn’t walk or talk until he was nearly two years old.  He was flummoxed at the thought of walking but he probably could have played the drums at age three.  We all have things that make us feel bewildered, lost, confused, or stuck.
What has you flummoxed?  What is the one thing you wish you could understand or do?  What is something you wish you were capable of doing that you just can’t?  I saw The Daily Prompt is asking a similar question, asking us to write about talents we wish we had.  Some talents we could have if we applied ourselves, but there are some things we honestly can not do.  If I could make a wish and suddenly know how to do anything in the world I would want to play the guitar.  For some reason I can’t make my brain and all ten fingers work at the same time as is needed for the guitar.  It’s not like a piano where each key is ONLY one note.  Each string on a guitar can be a few different notes (or no REAL note at all) depending where your left hand lands on the string.  I have tried desperately to learn and failed miserably in a huddle of tears in my teacher’s desk chair, begging him not to flunk me (thus bringing my GPA down by 0.236 points.  (He very graciously gave me an A-.  I would have been fine with a B.)

Talk to me about what has you flummoxed.  Then, tell me what you thought of this post.  Did you like my choice for the Word of the Week?  What other words would you like me to research?  Also, do you have any books you could suggest?  Although I do adore Nicholas Sparks, I have several other authors in my quaint library and I am always looking for new, intriguing, and exceptional works to delve into.  I love a good read!

If you take anything away from this post, I hope that the writers out there will consider what I said about being good readers.  Really good writers need to read as much (or more) than they write.  I certainly read much more than I write (another reason I don’t write enough sometimes).  I get caught up in stories and find myself obsessed with finishing whatever book is my muse of the moment – whether it be fiction, biographical, a blog, or any written work. I eat it up, and I hope my fellow writers do as well.

Until next time…


Flummoxed. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. (2003). Retrieved September 22 2013 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/flummoxed

Flummoxed. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flummoxed

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W.O.W. – Week # 5 (Charity/Cherish)

W.O.W. 4 & 5: Charity & Cherish

Since I (technically) did not post a Word of the Week last week, this post will serve as both last week’s and this week’s W.O.W’s.  It is actually kind of perfect because these words complement each other and both have played an important role in my life.  I was a little excited about working on these words due to that influence.

I do not talk about religion much.  It tends to ignite religious debates.  I despise religious debates. NO ONE is “right” or “wrong”.  Religion offers humanity a sense of community and that is a good thing.  I am not currently a religious person based on the purest definition of “religion”; I am a spiritual person, and I do believe there is a difference.  Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion as to the differences and similarities between “religious” and “spiritual”.  Obviously, I am not looking for a debate.  I have an intense spiritual history that has shaped my beliefs and I continue to learn each day.

I don’t really like to get into my religious past.  I am not sure how many of you are familiar with what Pentecostalism is.  To be Pentecostal is to live within a subculture quite different from the general American public.  If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend researching the Pentecostal faith.  If anything it will certainly offer you a lesson in religious and cultural diversity.  This week I draw from this part of my personal history.

I went to seminary after high school. I spent three semesters studying spirituality, theology – all that jazz.  One of my favorite classes was simply a study of the Bible. I was intrigued by the original Hebrew and Greek languages and how they were translated into the current-day translations (all 17 kabillion of them). Even if you don’t believe the Bible is the word of God (not that I am taking a stance on that), you have to admit the Bible is fascinating, and I ate it up!  My favorite books of the Bible were written by the Apostle Paul. His letters to the Corinthians were passionate and descriptive. That’s why I like them.  My favorite verse is I Corinthians 13:13, which brings me to W.O.W. #4, charity.

CHARITY (noun)

Pronunciation: ˈcher-ə-tē

I’ll eventually get to the modern, scholastic version of charity but for now I’ll focus on what I was taught about charity.  The King James Bible (authorized Cambridge version) says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Corinthians 13:4-13)

For those of you unfamiliar with the origins of biblical works, the New Testament (the portion of the Bible in which the Corinthian letters reside) was originally written in Greek. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.  There are those who may argue differently. I am only imparting what I have learned through what I was taught and my own research.  I personally believe this to be true. That said, just as an English word can have more than one meaning depending on the context, such is so with most other languages, including Greek.  In the referenced verses, Charity is derived from the original Greek word αγαπη (agape), meaning “love”.  More modern translations of the Bible have actually replaced “charity” with “love” in many verses, particularly in I Corinthians 13.  These verses are teaching us how to love, not only to love a mate but how to love each other – humanity.  It’s a lesson in kindness, compassion, and tolerance.  Even though I do not necessarily believe the Bible is an exact blueprint for how we should live our lives or how we should seek “salvation”, I do believe it is an excellent source of wisdom for how we should treat each other.  It’s an excellent way to learn from the mistakes of ancient characters, and I believe we should consider heeding their advice.  So many people hear the word charity and automatically think of institutions; dropping money in red kettles outside the supermarket during the holidays.  I am hoping to make people understand it is so much more than that.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines charity as “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity; generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also: aid given to those in need; an institution engaged in relief of the poor; public provision for the relief of the needy; a gift for public benevolent purposes; an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift; lenient judgment of others.”  I especially love that the modern-day definition of charity still clings to that biblical definition in some ways – a love for humanity, and “lenient judgment of others”.  I am thrilled that my research revealed that someone still defines charity as something more than donating money or energy toward a cause.  Charity is truly about loving people and showing compassion. It’s an intangible, emotional response between humans – not just the poor or sick.  It’s also leniency given to those we might usually judge harshly and forgiveness for someone who may not deserve it.  It’s a test of our humanity.

Origin of CHARITY

Merriam-Webster says the modern word charity comes from the “Middle English word charite, from Anglo-French charité, from Late Latin caritat-, caritas Christian love, from Latin, dearness, from carus dear; akin to Old Irish carae friend, Sanskrit kāma love.”  It claims the first known use was in the 13th century.

CHERISH (transitive verb)

Pronunciation: \ˈcher-ish, ˈche-rish\

Charity is a kind of love that can honestly be shared with anyone, a complete stranger or the one person you love most on Earth.  Cherishing a person is far more intense.  “To cherish something is to care for it deeply, to treasure it” (Collins English Dictionary). Cherishing someone is more than showing them charity and it’s more than simply loving them.  It’s an attachment, a need, and it’s more than an emotion shared between humans.  It’s an emotional attachment to a person or thing. People tend to cherish things. As an American, I think we put a lot of value in our possessions, and while you can’t show charity to an inanimate object, you can certainly cherish it. The Collins English Dictionary goes on to say, “The verb cherish is related to words that mean ‘costly’ and ‘beloved’. When people really value something, often because they feel emotionally connected to it, they cherish it. Generally, people don’t cherish things just because they cost money; they cherish experiences that matter to them.”

Origins of Cherish

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says cherish comes from the Middle English word cherisshen, from the Anglo-French cheriss (a stem of cherir or cher meaning “dear”); In Latin, carus.

My two cents:

I try intensely not to place too much value in stuff, but I am only human.  Today I found something I thought I had lost forever and I almost cried.  I wasn’t looking in a mirror, but when I found it at the bottom of a long-ignored box in my storage room, I think my neighbors may have seen the glint of my smile through my apartment windows…  I spent more than half my life (thus far) living with my grandmother.  I was living with her when she became sick last Winter with pancreatic cancer.  She died six short weeks later and I was there to watch her struggle to take her last 23 breaths.  When I married my ex-husband my grandmother gave me a homemade copy of all her recipes.  She had photocopied all of her favorite recipes (many of them in her own handwriting) and had the copies spiral bound.  She originally wrote a note in the front of it to me on my wedding day. After my divorce she tore the note out and promised to write me a new one.  She never got that chance, but that cookbook is probably my most precious, cherished possession.  When she died, I had about two days to move out of her house.  I had several friends and family helping me move, but you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen.  Somehow, I lost several of my things in the moving process – some knives from the kitchen, part of an antique wooden shelf my mother gave me, but the biggest “loss” was my grandmother’s cookbook. I cried for days over it.  Today I was unpacking a box of books that had been in a hutch at my grandmother’s.  The cookbook had been kept in a cubby above the stove. I never dreamed it would be in a box with my Nicholas Sparks collection and a copy of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”.  For the first time since my grandma passed, I was able to touch something that reminded me of her and not cry. I gleamed!

I honestly don’ t have too many “things” I would say I cherish, but I do have some people, many people, I cherish deeply.  If you have a big enough heart, there’s room to build deep, meaningful relationships with the people in your life.  It’s your job to decide who deserves a piece of you and to share of yourself as freely or sparingly as you can and make room when possible.  I am so very thankful for my friends and family. I would start to list names but this post is already long enough and it’s not like you would know who they are anyway.  I just hope that I have cherished them enough that they know how much I love and appreciate them and how thankful I am to share my life with them.


“Charity.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/charity&gt;.

Cherish. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved August 24, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cherish

“Cherish.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cherish>.

EARLIER POST (8/24/13):

I am in the process of working on this week’s Word of the Week (W.O.W.).  I chose two words for this week as I did not post last week due to some illness and other complications which completely dominated my life.  I am still recovering from an injury that happened at work. (I had no idea how complicated these things could be, even though I WORK in a neurology/pain clinic and we see worker’s compensation cases every day).  I have an impinged nerve somewhere between my neck and my right wrist, causing wide-spread pain in my neck, shoulder, and arm.  This makes working, driving, and typing difficult at times.

J.T. and I are working on moving in together, also contributing to my time management issues.  Moving has proven a much more complicated process than either of us anticipated.  We each live in separate one-bedroom apartments and we each have a cat.  Combining two apartments into one is hard enough, but since he is moving out of an apartment where he has lived for at least six years, there is much more packing and cleaning than we could ever have dreamed up. I am also incredibly anxious about introducing Libby and Sasha.  They’re both incredibly spoiled and slightly agoraphobic. (I’m not exactly assured this well go well.)

As for the word(s) of the week, I have already completed most of my research. I have a biblical reference I am still looking into and I want to work on some content before I finish up formatting/editing. It will likely be tomorrow before I am ready to publish.  As noted in the title, I chose the words charity and cherish.  I also mentioned last week that I would likely use these words either this week or in the future.  These are words that have had deep meaning for me and have played an important role in my life.  They have shaped parts of my life and I would like to share some of that with my audience (as small as it may be).  My hope is to allow these words to impact my readers in a way similar to how they have impacted me.

I’ll return tomorrow to publish the final result.

Much love & many blessings…


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Word of the Week – Week # 4 (Epic Fail)

I must apologize. There will not be a W.O.W. this week. I have been pretty sick. I just haven’t had the energy to do the research and put the work into it.  Mother Nature is one sick bitch sometimes, and that’s all I really have to say about it.  My boyfriend’s ex-friend once sent him this lengthy, whining text  about how bad he had it.  I think he had boils, trouble at work, dandruff, cellulitis, bipolar depression, and bullshititis all at once and it was preventing him from being a good friend, or even a decent human being.  I refuse to be that person; However, I do promise I will get back to blogging as soon as I feel better and I’ll try to do two words next time. 

I want to work on the word “cherish” and/or “charity”, and I want to do it justice.  If anyone has any thoughts on that, please feel free to share and hope to see you soon.

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Word of the Week #3 – Omission

First I must apologize for this week’s W.O.W. being a day late.  We had an extremely busy Saturday filled with an ice cream social, historical village, grocery shopping, and babysitting.  (I warned you I might be inconsistent from time to time.)

This week’s Word of the Week: Omission.  

I was inspired by the Daily Prompt on WordPress.  There was a question as to the necessity for political correctness.  The post asked bloggers to write about whether we feel it is more important to be honest or politically correct (PC).  I read several of the responding posts.  One blogger wrote that being politically correct was to practice the art of omission.  He said he felt that people take political correctness too seriously, causing people to omit some of their feelings and thoughts.  He felt honesty was the best policy. (I wish I could credit the author but I read so many blogs I honestly don’t remember which blog it is from. Sorry!!!)  

I have to say I agree with the above blogger in some ways.  There were those commenting on his post that disagreed, but omitting things constantly gets exhausting.  I also agree that sometimes omissions are good.  I suppose I am torn on the subject.  When my mom asks me how she looks now that she has stopped coloring her hair and wearing make-up, I omit some of my opinions.  I tell her the truth, but I omit some truths.  However, there are times when omissions can be bad.  For example, when a wife asks her husband what he did today and he omits that he rendevoused with his ex-girlfriend, that’s a bad omission.  Law dictionaries actually give examples of how witnesses, officers, attorneys, and government officials can face criminal charges for omissions.

Omissions occur more than only in conversation.  Have you ever felt ignored, forgotten, or excluded?  I have, far too many times.  When I went away to college, my best friend went with me.  We shared a dorm room. She is one of those people that could make friends with an entire room of people in five minutes.  She always had friends, places to go, and stuff to do.  I was shy.  I wasn’t “cool” like her.  I didn’t know how to open up to people, and I certainly wasn’t accustomed to just joining in without an invite. My mother and grandmother both taught me I should never invite myself to go over to a friend’s house, to go along on an outing, or into a group of people.  When my roommate and her friends were constantly going out and doing fun things, meeting new people, and enjoying their college experience without me, I felt omitted.  In a way I was.  I spoke to my friend about it. I was extremely upset at the time. I told her I felt she was excluding and ignoring me, and that she was not being a good friend.  She took offense.  She said she wasn’t going to beg me to come along every time something fun came along.  She suggested I just tell her when I wanted to go, or just show up and go along.  An invite was not required and I shouldn’t expect one. She felt I overreacted.  I simply didn’t feel comfortable forcing myself into a group of people.  Unfortunately, it changed our relationship forever.  I was hurt.  I felt neglected as her friend.  She felt I was neglecting myself.  She gave me what she saw as the only viable solution, but I didn’t feel I was capable of or comfortable with that solution.

Omissions are both good and bad in my opinion.  It can feel quite overwhelming sometimes, trying to know when to make an omission and when I shouldn’t.  Relationships seem to hinge on it.  My very close friend is a mixed African American. I can’t pretend I understand how she feels, being mixed or Black. She has struggled tremendously and I will never understand it.  I am not a racist.  I know White people say that all the time when it’s not true, but I really am not.  I don’t claim to be an expert on race. I don’t pretend to understand. I admit I am naive, which is why I avoid the subject in most cases, but my ignorance doesn’t make me racist.  I would rather avoid the subject than risk hurting someone’s feelings by asking questions.  I feel this way because I hurt my friend once by asking questions.  A White male friend of hers sang an R&B song in our open mic group that was recorded by a Black male artist.  It had the “N” word in it.  I asked her what it means when an African American says that word, as opposed to someone of a different ethnicity.  She looked at me like I had suddenly grown a third eye.  Perhaps I should have omitted that question.  We talked it out, but I was so hurt by her reaction.  She seemed to honestly hate my ignorance. It made me feel as if she hated a part of who I am. I know that’s not true, but it pushed me to the point that I avoid any kind of racial discussion whatsoever. I try to avoid discussing the differences between people because I am so afraid of hurting someone.  Whether it’s good or bad that I do this, I don’t know.  Perhaps I should be more proactive. Should I do more research? Should I try to understand? Perhaps, but I am not ready to take the risk.

I was surprised at some of the information I found when I was researching this week’s word of the week.  I had not really considered all the meanings of omissioin before.  That is why I like working on these little projects.  I enjoy learning, researching, and exploring words.  I like that I can research a word that seems quite simple and self-explanitory and it turn out to be something far more interesting than it seems.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the definitions.



According to Dictionary.com “omissioin” is a noun, defined as follows:  Someone or something that has been left out or excluded; The action of excluding or leaving out someone or something.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as something neglected or left undone; Apathy toward or neglect of duty.  I was shocked to see that neither definition mentioned omissions in conversation, as in leaving something unsaid.

Words synonymous with omission:  neglect, negligence, oversight (dictionary.com).

The root word “omit” comes from 1350-1400 Middle English.  It is also found in the Latin word omissiō, meaning “to let go”.

I Need Two Cents-

I am interested to hear what you have to say about this week’s W.O.W.  If you have any suggestions as to any future words, please feel free to share!  I am always open to suggestions and need help with inspiration at times.  I really enjoyed this week’s word. I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve learned. I hope that I am helping my (small) audience to learn some things too and I want to learn from you as well.  Thank you for reading!

omission. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved August 11, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/omission

“Omission.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/omission&gt;.

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Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster

The Daily Prompt… I want to do this (after I get the W.O.W. posted)

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W. O. W. #2 In Progress – “Epitaph”

This needs serious editing but there was some kind of glitch with the website when I tried to preview my post before I published it and it deleted all my changes.  Here’s the rough copy…

Intro –

Last week’s Word of the Week (W.O.W.) was “brevity”.  The brevity of human life is a topic of discussion in many forums.  This week’s “epitaph” seemed like a natural progression.  Christopher Crisp (2008) defines “epitaph” as such: “Epitaphs provide a short definition of a person’s life” (para.1). Though simple, this explains exactly what an epitaph is.  Some epitaphs are clichés, others more original.  An epitaph is what is written on one’s tombstone when they die, how someone might sum up your life at your funeral, or what people may think or say about you when you’re gone.  What would your epitaph be?  That’s something to think about…  I chose “epitaph” as this week’s W.O.W. because I have seen a lot of death in my life, more than most I think…


My mother has worked in a nursing home my entire life.  I spent a huge chunk of my childhood in that nursing home, because for a large portion of my childhood my mother was single and could not afford childcare.  I played Dominos, checkers, and cards and sometimes put puzzles together with some of the residents.  I would visit them in their rooms or hand them their little water cups when my mother (a nurse) would give them their pills.


The problem with spending so much time with people in a nursing home is I have out-lived almost all of them.  I can’t tell you how many funerals I have attended for my mother’s residents.  Some of them had families; some didn’t.  I’ve waited in long lines to bid them goodbye, but I have also sat in a room with my mother and a handful of other nursing home employees to honor their lives.  Those funerals are always the saddest ones, and there is usually no eulogy or “service”, just a few well-wishers trying to honor someone who out-lived anyone else who ever cared.  What would you say at the funeral of someone you barely knew?


I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember this man died who had a partner (girlfriend) in the nursing home.  We’ll call them Arty and Eva. Both of them had been seriously disabled for as long as I had known them.  I remember how heartbreaking it was to watch two employees lift Eva’s tiny body from her wheelchair and perch her up next to Arty’s casket.  Tears poured from her eyes but she had never been able to speak well.  No discernible words came from her lips, just sounds, and I remember wanting to know what she was saying.  I have no doubt she would have given Arty a beautiful eulogy if she could have. What was his epitaph?  Eva had been the one person he had ever shared his soul with and she couldn’t share it at his passing, but the air was certainly thick with grief and love.  The sound of her heart breaking was Arty’s epitaph.


Definition of Epitaph

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2013) defines epitaph as “an inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there; a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past” (para.1-2).  It goes on to describe it as such:


Inscription in verse or prose on a tomb, or, by extension, anything written as if to be inscribed on a tomb. Probably the earliest surviving epitaphs are those written on ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and coffins. Ancient Greek examples are often of literary interest. In Elizabethan times epitaphs began to assume a more literary character. Many of the best known are literary memorials (often deliberately witty) not intended for a tomb (para. 6).

Origins of Epitaph

The first known use of the word “epitaph” was during the 14th century.  It comes from the Greek epitaphion or epi + taphos (tomb + funeral).


My Two Cents

Over the last 18 years I have lost a lot of people I care about.  It started with my Grandpa Simmons. He helped raise me until I was about 12 years old.  He died right after school started my freshman year of high school. It was the first death to seriously impact my life that I can remember.  About a year and half later my step-dad’s father died.  A few months later my maternal grandfather died on my 16th birthday.  Six years later my husband’s grandmother, great uncle, and great aunt died.  You can think it may not impact me as much as my ex-husband and you would be right, but I was extremely close with most of his family.  My great uncle died about a year or two before my great aunt.  She died five years ago and my ex-husband’s other great uncle followed shortly after.  Just before our divorce, he also lost a cousin who was my age.  Tragedy struck last September when my ex and his mother were in a bad accident. She was crushed inside the car and he was thrown from it.  (He is still paralyzed, tragically.)


I was incredibly close to my ex-mother-in-law.  Sometimes I felt closer to her than my own mother.  When she passed, there was not a single soul on Earth who could say a sour word about her.  She was the most giving, loving, selfless person I have ever known.  It left a huge hole in my heart after she was gone.  I miss her every day.  A day or so after she died, I wrote a poem.  For me, it was her epitaph.  I suppose there were others who could have said something different from what I said.  No one person has only one epitaph.  Each person means something different to each person they know.  I suppose it is the most popular opinion that endures.  Of course, everyone had a pretty good opinion of her.  (If you would like to read the poem I have copied it at the bottom of this post.)


About seven months ago I lost my grandmother.  I was living with her at the time.  She was not only my father’s mother.  She was a saint.  She raised me when no one else could (or would), and every time I needed help, she was the only person I knew I could always turn to.  I loved her immensely, deeply.  I would have given my life to have given her more time in this world.  She was only 69 years old.  She had pancreatic cancer and we didn’t know it until it was too late.  I have seen a lot of death, lost a lot of people I loved, but this was the greatest loss of my life.  The sting is still fresh, the void is still deep, and the pain still real.  The pain is more than I can bear some days.  Every time I have suffered extreme pain, especially when I have lost a loved one, I have found solace in my writing.  I write poems (like the one below), or short stories like the one I wrote when my friend’s father died.  Something was different when my grandmother died.  I couldn’t write. I was incapable of writing anything about her, to honor her, to grieve for her.  To this day I have yet to write anything for my grandmother.  It disturbs me greatly.  All I can do is pray and hope that someday my broken heart will allow me to write for her the way I have for others…


My research for this week has directed me to some unexpected reading.  I can’t tell you how many epitaphs I have read, about people I have never met, written by people I will never meet.  It was both interesting and inspiring to see what people say about others after they are gone.  It made me think, “If I died tomorrow, what would my epitaph be?”  I am not so sure I am ready to know…


I call this “B.I.G.”…


Way up over yonder,

 Above the sky of blue

 Is a big ol’ cabin & a farm

 Where the owner waits for me & you.



To get to her farm

 We can’t go by plane or bus

 But she made sure it was just big enough

 For every one of us.



There’s meatloaf in the oven

 And chicken on the stove.

 She’s cookin’ somethin’ for each of us

 ‘Cause that’s how she shows her love.



She stirs the homemade noodles,

 Pepsi can in hand.

 And hums along to Lynard Skynard

 And the Charlie Daniels Band.



There ain’t no invitation.

 Anyone can come.

 Arrive early or late, doesn’t matter.

 She welcomes everyone.



She’ll bend over backwards

 For anyone in need.

 She’ll pick you up when you fall,

Kiss your boo-boo’s, & bandage skinned knees.



She’ll be a mother, grandma,or friend

When you feel like you have none.

And she’ll offer forgiveness and a hug,

No matter what you’ve done.



Even all the critters

Call her “Momma” too –

Be it a cat, dog, goat,

or a pony named “Blue”.



Every now and then

She may get in your face.

And tell you to “cowgirl up”

Or put you in your place.



She always plays with the big dogs

And is tougher than most men.

Her motto: “Go big or go home”

And she did both in the end…



She was the most amazing woman

And so full of life.

It’s so easy to be angry

That she’s gone before her time.



But Boobie wouldn’t want us

To get depressed and cry

 Because she died doing what she loved

 With her son by her side.



Whether in a derby car or in life

 She never passed up a fight.

 But even though she was one tough cookie

Her bark was still worse than her bite.



She was stubborn as a mule

But sweet as she could be.

And now there is one amazing angel

Watching out for you and me.



In loving memory of Boobie I.Gray. 4/17/1961 – 9/23/2012. I love & miss you so much, Momma Boobie. Love, Crystal



Crisp, C. (2008, Oct 23). Epitaphs provide a short definition of person’s life. The Dispatch. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/435469618?accountid=458

“Epitaph.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epitaph>.



I am sitting in the lounge at my car dealer waiting for them to replace a damaged tire. In the meantime I thought I would let everyone know I AM working on this week’s Word of the Week. I haven’t already fallen off the wagon. It’s just been a busy week. I am still getting over the last remaining symptoms of shingles and yesterday I fell out of the dilapidated desk chair my boss refuses to replace and hurt my.. Everything! It hurts from wrist to skull, all the way up my right arm. God forbid he have any concern if I am OK. He is a neurologist and deals with work comp patients every day but I seriously doubt he has work comp insurance. Anyway…

I am going back and forth on this week’s Word of the Week. I liked “queer” at the beginning of the week because I was feeling brave and argumentative but I think I may save it for another week. I also like “hyperbole,” “epiphany,” & “epitaph”. I can’t decide which way to go and I haven’t received any feedback or suggestions so I will work it out and post tomorrow as promised.

I do ask for some forgiveness in advance. My boyfriend and I are celebrating our one-year anniversary tonight and have plans to spend some family time with my mom, sister, and nephew in the morning so my post may be brief. Now that’s practicing brevity! Haha!

8/3/13 Update:

I have decided to use “epitaph” as this wee’s word of the week.  I am just checking in before we make the drive to meet up with my family (while J.T. is in the shower-haha).  I still have to finish getting ready and my hand/wrist are really sore right now (from my fall on Thursday).  I have a feeling this week’s W.O.W. post will be quite brief if my hand keeps hurting.  It’s difficult to type when every muscle from my knuckles to my neck hurts.  I will be back later today to post my content.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. The weather here is a little overcast but I can’t complain. We’re in the low 80’s in AUGUST!!!  That’s fairly mild for Southern Illinois.   I’ll be back this evening! Enjoy your Saturday!

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Word of the Week #1 – Brevity

The Word of the Week for July 21-27 is Brevity

Blogging on Brevity:
I recently discovered one of my new favorite bloggers, Sophie Lizard.  (She actually gets PAID to blog – lucky girl!)  Her July 7th post was my inspiration for this week’s word of the week.  The entire post was about writing concisely, combining brevity and clarity to develop that perfect pithiness that readers crave – meaningful but brief content.  This is definitely an area where I struggle (obviously) but I am working on it.  The information in Sophie’s post is invaluable to any writer, not just bloggers.  (By the way, Sophie’s blog is sited in my resources. If you don’t already, you should consider following her blog. I highly recommend it.)

I have really enjoyed doing the research for my first Word of the Week.  Brevity, to me, is more than briefness.  Exercising brevity in one’s written work means intentionally keeping it simple and getting the point across without sacrificing content.  I am a work in progress and have yet to master this concept but I am excited at the thought of trying!

Pronunciation: brev·i·ty [brev-i-tee]
Definition of Brevity:
Dictionary.com (2013) defines Brevity as follows:
1.shortness of time or duration; briefness: the brevity of human life.
2.the quality of expressing much in few words; terseness: Brevity is the soul of wit.
This was my favorite of all the definitions I found because it quotes Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit”.  I could easily get off on a tangent about why that statement is so true, why brevity is necessary for wit and visa-verse but I think I’ll save that for another day (read Sophie’s blog!)…

Dictionary.com also lists several synonyms. I don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence, but I feel I should revisit middle school English here, just in case.  (You never know who your audience may be.) I feel it’s important to consider language barriers, age, etc. A synonym is a word having either the same or close to the same meaning as another word.
Synonyms for brevity:  compactness, succinctness, pithiness

I especially like the word pithy.  Pithy (or pithiness) also implies briefness but includes a special meaningful quality, substance, or forcefulness.

Origins of Brevity:  The Oxford Dictionary (2013) credits the origin of brevityto the 15th Century Old French word brievete, meaning “brief”.  I found blog sites that argued the origins were Greek, but Greek is widely accepted as a sister language to Latin.  The Latin words bravitas or brevis also mean brief.  Since the “other sources” I found couldn’t provide any substantial evidence of Greek or Latin origins, I am inclined to believe The Oxford Dictionary in that the origins of the word are from the Old French.  My guess, as uneducated as it may be, is there was no real word for Brevity in the ancient languages (Latin, Greek, etc.) and perhaps the French invented it, stemming from the word for brief – be it Latin, Greek, French, or otherwise.

If anyone wants to suggest a word for a future Word of the Week, please feel free to leave a comment.  I am open to suggestions and keep a list.

Brevity. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved July 23, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/brevity

Brevity. (2013). Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/brevity

Lizard, S. (2013). All Killer, No Filler: 6 Simple Tips for Concise Writing. Retrieved from http://beafreelanceblogger.com/how-to-write-concisely/


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Random Rantings – Taking Chances

Since this is my personal blog there are no rules to follow, meaning I can post whenever I want, about whatever I like. So, for the sake of having nothing else to do and curbing my anxiety I want to make a random post about something that is eating at me, and I need feedback so please KEEP READING.

I tend to be careful, too careful. I went to church every time the doors were open when I was a kid because it was a guaranteed community – a group of people with like beliefs who were (for the most part) very kind to me, kinder than anyone else – even my family. It was safe… I went to the same college all my friends from church went to because a) my friends were there, and b) it was close to home… I married a boy I grew up around. I knew him my entire life and I knew he would never leave our home town because he was a coward just like me. I THOUGHT he was safe. (That’s another story.)

The problem with being careful all the time is that it’s so dreadfully boring! From time to time I’ve been known to take small risks, some of which are good, but I have lived to regret most of them. I have had my share of risky romances. I went on a spring break trip to London with a group of people I barely knew and who mostly hated me by the end of the trip. I had an affair and divorced my husband – lost everything. I finished my bachelors degree online (much harder to do than it may seem). I called a guy I met in a bar and agreed to a date when I was mid-miscarriage with a Summer fling’s twins. Yes. That really happened. For the record, he’s amazing and it was the best risk I have ever taken.

I DO have a point… I feel stuck – stuck in Southern Illinois, stuck in my job, stuck in debt, stuck with depression, and stuck in this life. I feel that my parents are largely to blame. I can’t change how I feel and I know my mom and dad (stepdad) did their best, but my “real” father is completely self-involved and my mom didn’t encourage me to go to school or help pay for it. She certainly didn’t try to help me find any direction or help me find someone who could. Yes. I had a mom and grandmother who did their best to raise me well, and they did. I am a productive member of society, but I am STUCK. The worst part is, my mom raised me to be stuck, just like everyone else around here.

I’ve decided I don’t want to be stuck anymore. I don’t want to be my mom in 25 years, sitting in the same spot on the same couch in the same house watching the same crappy sitcoms. I want to go somewhere. I want to do and be more than what this life has dished out to me. I think I have finally had enough and I am ready to fly!

There is only one problem with all of this. I am BROKE. I have NO savings. My boyfriend and I always seem to get just a little bit ahead just before some great catastrophe. It may not seem like much, but three days off work is half my rent for the month!

Here’s a question for all you folks out there who have gotten the heck out of Dodge… HOW DID YOU DO IT??? I don’t want the typical stories (college, military, marriage, etc). I want to know how Average Joe just picks up and leaves from Smalltown, USA and finds his Heaven on Earth. How can anyone afford to uproot and move out of state? How do you get jobs when you live HOURS away? How do you find a place to live? (And do they accept pets?)

I have a Business degree. I am an excellent typist. I have done clerical work and customer service (mostly in the medical industry) my entire life, not to mention I do have SOME writing talent. That has to be worth something! JT is the hardest working person I know. He’s great with his hands, intelligent, and everyone likes him. The problem is getting two great people from where we are to where we want to be. We’ve decided we do NOT want to be here!

So, please share with me how YOU DID IT. How did you move clear across the country? How did you leave everything  you know, find work, and a place to live? How did you AFFORD it? I just have no idea where to begin.

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Introducing Word of the Week

As part of my new blogging venture I am trying something new.  It is mostly for my own benefit but I hope that it will also benefit my readers. (I am officially up to 3 readers – yay!)  I want to share a new word every week.  I will research its meaning(s) and origin, share other sources on the subject, and hopefully write an entry focused on the use of the word or its meaning.  After all, a blog called What Are Words For? should seek out the purpose of words, how we use them, why we use them, etc.

I will likely post my “Word of the Week” articles on Saturdays, since that’s when I seem to have the most time; However, please don’t hold me to that commitment.  As this is a new blog, it’s easy for me to believe I will keep up on a weekly basis.  I would LIKE to believe it for myself, but sometimes things come up and I am well aware of my humanity. I embrace my inconsistencies.  Right now I am off work, and have been since Friday afternoon (the last 4 1/2 days if you’re counting) because I am battling a case of the Shingles – ON MY FACE (damn chicken pox).  I have a ton of time on my hands, can’t really stand to be out in the sun, and I get bored easily, so right now it’s easy.  To make promises of weekly posts chalked full of worthwhile information may be stretching it a bit. I am not really sure at this point, so please accept my apologies in advance if I post too early, too late, or not at all.  It’s not that I believe ANYONE would agonize in waiting for my next post.  This isn’t exactly nail-biting material, but I try very hard to be a woman of my word. Now that I have the preliminary disclaimers out of the way…

The Word of the Week for July 21-27 is Brevity

I encourage you to look it up, research it for yourself, and come back here this weekend to see what I have found.  I would also love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!  I may not reply right away, but I will try very hard to keep up with comments/messages.  Happy word hunting!

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