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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. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from

Detritus. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2013, from

Detritus. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2013, from

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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

Flummoxed. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2013, from

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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 “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 (

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.). Unabridged. Retrieved August 11, 2013, from website:

“Omission.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2013. <;.

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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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