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Word of the “Week” #6: Flummoxed

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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.

SO FOR THE TASK AT HAND

INTRO. –
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

DEFINITION
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.”

ORIGIN
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.  

FOLLOW-UP
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…

Resources

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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