Dictionary Challenge Weeks 28-29: Halfway Check-in of the Vitals

DictionaryReading the dictionary is like trying to get fit after you’ve let junk food annihilate your existence. You hit the gym and you watch the miles build, you count the reps, the crunches, the calories, and you’re giving so much but that damned scale barely budges. But you do it, week after week, and then one day you realize you’ve lost 10 pounds of excess weight. But that’s not where you quit, because you’re not done yet. You haven’t reached your goal. So you keep going, week following week following week following week following week following week….

Your entire existence has been redefined by the effort you’re putting forth. You’re tired. But you can’t quit. You’ve come so far and even though that counts for something, you know what you set out to do. So even though your muscles are aching you wake up and you begin again.

And while this is required, perhaps even admirable, there is still a cynical exhaustion that comes with it.

You see, in a way, the dictionary haunts me. The bookmarkbookmark I use was something my significant other had made me a few years ago. It was charming, once upon a time – an indication of sweet romance. But now, the meaning has become much more literal… in an unfortunate way. Every morning I find the place I had left off reading from and every night I place the bookmark as I close The Behemoth for a night’s rest. And there’s that book mark reminding me that tomorrow is going to be the same. Every morning. Every night. Every morning. Every night. Day after day, week after week, month after month.

You’d think I’d just use a different bookmark wouldn’t you?

Nope.

I am just over half way and sometimes I look at the braid of my bookmark sticking out from between the pages and I feel, well, a bit more than a little stupid for ever taking this on. But other times I look at it and feel like I’m accomplishing something great. That’s how it goes with anything. When you put your effort towards something and it demands so much from you – you’re proud. Even if it’s something as peculiar as reading the dictionary.

I had a conversation the other day with a friend and she said I should make my next challenge to NOT do a single challenge for a year. Sounds easy right? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t do it. Because working towards something – whether it’s perhaps more practical like running a marathon or writing a novel – it gives you a sense of purpose; it’s rewarding. And that’s something we all need. It goes beyond work and relationships and family. This is that extra thing you do that’s all yours.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Or that you’re not going to want to quit. Or that you might feel genuine hate for what you’re doing at times. But to persevere, to conquer the giant, to slay the dragon… well that feeling trumps it all. And it feels pretty damn good.

Alas, I am not there yet. This giant – The Behemoth – is still requiring much more slaying.

I usually do a halfway point check in with each challenge and though I’m now past that, I’m still going to do a belated check-in of the vitals:

Mentally I’m exhausted. This is due to the fact that I fell so far behind at the get-go that I now, each week, usually try to double the required reading. Over the past few weeks I have also had what I’m calling a “pre-headache.” It’s not an actual headache, but my head hurts and feels like it could develop into a full-blown headache.

Emotionally I’m a roller coaster. Sometimes I’m feeling bad ass, crushing page after page. Other times doubt creeps in as I wonder just what the hell I’m doing and I feel like a freak for spending so much time doing this. But then I read an awesome word I didn’t know or learn a historical fact and all is swell.

Physically… I’m a train wreck. I mean, other than toting this nearly 5 pounds of definitions around everywhere I go, I don’t have time for regular exercise. I play sports a couple times a week, ride my bike to work, and go on an occasional hike, but my poor dumbbells from the Chin Up Challenge have unfortunately been much neglected. I had also taken up drinking coffee for the past 4 months (though I just quit this past Monday) to keep me going.

I don’t know what category this fits under… but I am also now acutely aware of paper density. The dictionary has very thin pages.

Overall, this is a surprisingly demanding challenge thus far (and let’s be real – will probably only feel more demanding the closer to finished I get) but, like I said above… I can’t quit. I wanted to do this and now I’m going to see it through to the end. Learning things I didn’t know before, especially words, is really awesome. It also makes me want to read the Encyclopedia. But that’s a whole other beast I’m not actually considering… yet. I’ve learned a lot from the dictionary and would with the Encyclopedia even more so. Plus, that would be a much easier read.

Now, I’m full of little tidbits and facts that come popping up in every day conversation. It’s gotten to the point that whenever I diverge some random piece of information, my significant other asks just one word, “dictionary?” To which the answer is yes about 95% of the time.

To sum it all up: yeah, wanting to read the dictionary is weird… but also awesome.

Now, because I know you’d all rather have read about the last two weeks of interesting words, I won’t completely short change you on this post: The second sense of the word mad money is “emergency cash carried by a woman on a date for bus fare if needed.” If needed. Hmmm. Now I wonder what kind of situation that would be…

Week 28/29 Stats:

Starting Word: lotus-eater                     Ending Word: Maryland

Total Pages: 949/1815                            Ahead/Behind: -76 pages

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