Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lesson 2: Get a dictionary...

...and use it.

Sometimes people say what they think you want to hear. Other times people say things that they don't mean at all. I don't profess that I never have, but I sincerely try not to do these either of these things.

And some people can find the right words to express exactly what they mean. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. When I open my mouth I tend to say the wrong words.

I usually have the words that I need, in my head, but I cannot for the life of me get them to come out right. Maybe I get nervous. Maybe I try too hard. Mostly, I am afraid that someone may misunderstand me.

I definitely need a dictionary.

I hate crossword puzzles (and Scrabble). I find them both extremely frustrating. They make me feel not real bright, and I know that I am. I'm not denying my dimmer moments, but we all have those. I'm also not impying that I'm Jeopardy material. What I am trying to say is that I don't know a 6 letter word for "Pay homage to". And I don't care. But maybe I should.

I am trying to work on this. I am trying to think about how others will understand my words, and my frequent misuse of them. Some have perceived my frequent verbal-blunders as dishonesty and an attempt to mislead them. That is NOT my goal. My vocablulary is obviously just more limited than I like to admit.

What I really want is the gift of being able to express my feelings, exactly the way I intend to. This is one of the main reasons that I write. My brain-to-mouth coordination seems to be lacking of late. I like that when I write my thoughts down I can go back to edit, proofread, and rewrite as many times as I like. I can make sure the words I use are just perfect. (I've reread this bog at least 50 times.)

Although I tend to bugger that up at times as well. I've learned that when you use certain words (and analogies), people don't always take your meaning the way that you intend for them to. I'll bet those people have a dictionary.

Let's talk about words. Yes, if you open a dictionary, there are thousands of pages of concrete definitions to every word in our language. In my mind some words have positive connotations, others negative.

The word "connotation" is defined as "the associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning". My issue is not with the words themselves, just another persons opinion of negative or positive connotations of them. This is where I run into problems.

Here is an example. The word is "content". As an adjective, not a noun. I tend to like this word. Overall, I see it as a having a positive meaning. It is defined as "satified with what one has; not wanting more or anything else." Unfortunately, I think the word "satisfied" is a boring word. Kind of blah. There are certain situations when I think the word "satisfied" is extremely appropriate. But in this case we are talking about talking, not...well, you know.

If you look in a thesauras, "content" is synonymous with "agreeable, at ease, fulfilled, thankful, and tickled pink". These are positive words in my mind. But it is also synonymous with "smug, complacent, and appeased". I don't find these words exactly negative, so to speak. Just sort of so-so. You may not feel the same way. That is exactly the point I am trying to make.

Ok, one more word. "Copacetic". It just happens to be the word of the day on dictionary.com today. Defined as "fine, completely satisfactory, ok". Ugh.. "satisfactory". Although it is synonymous with "admirable". I like that word.

So i like "content", but I hate "copacetic". The find the former positive, the latter...blah. But the definition of both contains the word "satified".

Am I asking too much? I want to be more than "satisfied". And I definitely am. But how do I say it? What are the right words?

If only there was a way that the people that you care about could just read your mind and know exactly what you want to say. I would not have to get nervous about choosing the wrong words to get my meaning across.

The moral of this story is think before your speak. Words may have different "connotations" to different people. Even if the definition is the same. The point is that we try. I know I really do, even though I tend to mess it up in the end.

I sincerely hope that no one misunderstands what I mean when they read this.

And please, no comments full of merriam-webster definitions that show just how poorly I've chosen my words....I'm still searching for the right ones. I'm a work in progress.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Lesson 1 - Always follow your instinct.

Ok, maybe this isn't the first lesson I've learned, but it is the latest. There is no need to over-analyze every situation. Just go with your initial gut feeling.

Sometimes I tend to think too much about things. I fear the ulterior motives of others, and in many cases make decisions out of self-preservation. I second guess myself. Sometimes it's the wrong decision. I almost made that mistake again recently. I'm not making excuses for myself, just reminding myself how silly I have acted lately.

A friend of mine recently wrote about buying a new car. It was an analogy, I think. Although it's a stretch, my current topic can also be compared to the new car buying experience.

For months I have been in the market for a new car. I saw one that I liked a while back. It was brand new model that wasn't even on the market yet. There was just something about it that I was drawn to. For months I waited for it to finally be at the dealerships so that I could see it in person. It was exactly what I was looking for, all the right features.

Of course, I had to shop around and test drive another model. We are all consumers, right? I just had to make be sure that this was the car that I wanted. Not that the other one wasn't nice. It really was. But that first one..........I knew it was for me. I should have trusted my instinct. But I didn't, and I almost lost the perfect car. Ok, no car is perfect, but you know what I mean.

My profession is sales. I know how it works. If you don't jump on the deal, you could potentially lose it. Forever. That is not bullshit, well most of the time it's not. In this case it was definitely not. I went back and forth with my salesperson for days. I'm not sure she trusted that I was serious about the purchase. I wheeled and dealed. That actually may not be the best choice of words, but it's all I could come up with. Finally I convinced her that I really wanted this car. She was willing to go the extra mile, and give me the chance to hold up my end of the bargain. I'm really glad that she did. I really like this car. I just hope that I don't do something silly to ruin it. I've made that mistake before as well.

Cars are a comittment. It's not just a test drive. It's not just a means of getting from "Point A" to "Point B". You want them to be around for awhile. You hope that if you take care of your car it will last a very long time. So you change your oil every 3,000 miles, and you get your scheduled tune ups done. It's all about the preventative maintenance. Of course, that doesn't neccesarily mean that you will never have problems. You have to plan for the inevitable. Accidents happen, nature happens. That is why we have auto insurance. ..and those nifty "get out of jail free" cards from the police officer that you know through your sister's neighbor. I prefer to never have to use those, but I did. And it sucked.

You can't live in constant fear that you may have bought a lemon. You just have to wait until it proves you wrong. Never know...maybe it won't.

The moral of the story is, if you care about something, treat it right. Always. From the very first day. Hopefully it will do the same. I believe that it is worth the risk. Maybe you will get dissappointed, but you never know until you try.

This makes me nervous.

What do I do now? Is that what every new "blogger" thinks? My cousin has one, and she encouraged me to do this. I think she is braver than I.

We all need a way to vent our feelings, good or bad. And I need a hobby. Although it may be safer to just take up bowling. That would be less stressful. Not that I've ever been the one to take the easy way out. Apparenty I'm more prone to self-sabotage.

I've always been a writer. Diaries, short stories, long drawn out college thesis. Once I wrote a sequal to the movie "Goonies". In my defense, I was in the 3rd grade. I loved that movie.

I'm not saying that I'm a good writer, but I have always wanted to be. It's just always been easier for me to write than to speak the words out loud. Mostly because I can go back and review what is on the page, unlike when you are talking. That you can't edit. And I tend to talk too much, too soon, without thinking. The brain-to-mouth filter is just competely disfunctional. Ok, maybe I do take the easy way out sometimes.

My ultimate goal is to take my personal faux pas, and make them into some sort of best selling literary masterpiece. The problem is, I'm afraid it will suck. I'm not that interesting, I'm not that different, and I'm not that much funnier, cynical, or thought provoking than anyone else.

So why not start here? Where everyone in the free world can read it. Talk about jumping in head first! Not that it matters to anyone else, but I owe it to myself.