Dictionary Challenge Week 19: The Derailing Thought Train

I have a fairly active imagination and it doesn’t take much to trigger a complete detour from the information I am presented with.

Just moments ago I read eyebrow. We all know what it is, but you don’t think about it. So when I read the definition and am matter-of-factly told that it is “the line, usually arched, of short hair growing along the ridge above each eye socket” it’s not anything particularly striking. But just the way it’s worded makes me picture it like a hairy caterpillar crawling along a ridge. And then I think why do we have this line of hair so distinctly placed crawling across our faces, basically in the middle of nowhere.

Because it is weird when you think about it. Humans are pretty bald. Even the hair on our head is weird. Most hairy animals are close to fully covered, but then we come along with our tuft of hair on our heads… and a few other places. Which then makes me think about evolution and how we came from apes and were once fully covered in hair. And so really humans are like a hairless cat. Kind of gross.

You know what I mean. Whether you like them or not, you have to admit hairless cats are pretty darn freaky looking. So then I think about how every human is actually freaky looking because we are the hairless cat of the apes and I get to wondering just what was it that caused mankind to procreate in the first place when we were all – technically – so ugly?

And then I curse beHairless Catcause all that nonsense wasted 5 minutes of my time, just like it did yours. And we all know it’s not a person’s looks – it’s their personality.

So I turn back to The Behemoth and dive in again: Extra sensory perception – the supposed ability to perceive outside, past, or future events without the use of known senses (ESP). At first glance, I completely get why it is the “supposed” ability, but then I wonder why in the second sense of the word eternity meaning “the condition into which the soul enters at death; the afterlife” there is no supposition. Neither is there one with the second sense of epiphany meaning “a manifestation of a god or demigod.” And all of a sudden I’m trapped in an existential (of or relating to existence) moment and I just want to stop thinking so I can read the next word…

Erase. Meaning “rub out or obliterate (something written, typed, drawn)”

Which is what I want to do with all the extraneous (irrelevant, unnecessary, or not part of the matter at hand) thoughts that come along with each word. Like how reading the entry for erase made me picture a person’s pencil spitting out cannonballs of fire as they obliterated that horrible sentence they just wrote about eyebrows. Maybe that example was more personally situational… Either way, I love this definition. I will never erase the same way again – I will obliterate!

But you see what this is like, don’t you? I read about 35 words every 10 minutes. Well, so long as my incessant imagination doesn’t intrude and cause me to spiral out of control into existential daydreams and ponderings on every single little thing. When each entry is a bite-sized little stand-alone nugget it’s hard not to, because otherwise I’m not really engaging with what I’m reading. Which I’m guilty of as well. Some words slip by and I realize that my mind has been elsewhere thinking about hairless apes and I have no idea what I just read. This can continue until something major happens to pull me out of my reverie. Something big. Something great. Something awesome.

Like the word empurple, meaning “make purple or red” and “make angry”. This time you have got to be picturing that heavier set guy with a chip on his shoulder reaming out some zit-faced kid behind a cashier’s counter as his anger causes his face to empurple in a terrifying yet impressive way. If you weren’t, you are now anyways.

On that note, I am going to leave things for this week. Tomorrow I start on the letter F. I’m about 30% of the way through The Behemoth and just over 140 pages behind in finishing it by the end of one year’s time.

If you’d like me to share more words or more on the experience, just drop me a line! You can find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Week 19 Stats

Starting Word: empty calorie                   Ending Word: Ezra

Total Pages: 529/1815                                Ahead/Behind: – 141 pages


Dictionary Challenge Week 18: D is for Done

You thought it would be another month before I got through the next letter, didn’t you? Sheesh. Ye of little faith. Just kidding. My track record hasn’t been quite up to snuff this go around. But guess whhhhhat?? This gal did it.

D is Done.

I still can’t breathe the sigh of relief that comes with being out of the red, but at least I don’t feel like quite as much of a loser as I have been the last while. Those of you who have been with me through my other challenges know that I take losing, failing, and being inadequate kind of hard. Sure, I’m an advocate for it being a necessary part of the journey to success, but it still puts the hurt on a person’s ego. Maybe that’s why I’m so humble…. Pfft.

Anyways! Slowly, steadily…. I’m coming for par.

Here are a few words that jumped out at me over my perusal of the D section of the dictionary:

Starting Word: developer                  Ending Word: empty

Total Pages 491/1815                         Ahead/Behind: – 144 pages

Dictionary Challenge Week 17: Eat. Breathe. Dictionary.

When you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. And if you don’t, there are consequences and you have to pay the price. When I started this challenge I was too busy to dedicate the time it required and foolishly thought I could easily make it up later.

A familiar story right?

Well. I’ve been living in later for the past few weeks and I am going to be honest here…

It’s been brutal. The dictionary has taken over my life.

I am not joking. I am not being facetious. I am not exaggerating. If I’m not reading it, I’m thinking about it. Every. Spare. Moment. Mostly I’m plagued by questions of am I wasting my life away with my nose in the dictionary? Will I ever make this come-back? Can I break the ten minute page and still retain things? Should I have brought the dictionary to ball to read between bats? Does anyone care or get why I am doing this? How many more hours until I’m no long behind? Am I, quite possibly, the biggest geek of them all?

I can actually say thank god for my job because it gives me 8 hours of guilt-free reprieve from reading the behemoth and from thinking about it. It’s gotten to the point that if someone doesn’t talk succinctly I start to feel anxious because they’re wasting time that I could be spending with my *precious* dictionary.

This is not something I feel good about.

But this is the price I have to pay. I was the one who fell behind. For good reasons, but it’s still on me to deal with the consequences. I just want to say sorry to all the people out there that are suffering along with me. I promise it won’t be this way forever. I hope.

This is a familiar point in every challenge I’ve ever done. It’s the point where the initial enthusiasm has worn off and I can’t rely on excitement alone to carry me through, doubt starts to creep or come crashing in, and I question the validity of what I am doing. Most people might think that at this point, it’s time to cash in those chips and walk away. I’m not one of those people that can do that. I know I won’t always succeed as I’ve learned from my last challenge and the one before that. But I won’t ever quit trying. I know to most people that reading the dictionary is odd, it’s not the same as trying to get into shape. But if it were about that, when things get tough, you don’t just walk out of the gym never to return. You buckle down and deal with it.

On June 7th I hit my lowest point: behind by 242 pages. Since then I have been reading this thing every morning before work… over every noon hour break… after work… in the evenings… on the weekends… in the car… on the couch… at the table… in my home office… in the park… in bed… on the porch… on park benches… everywhere… all the time.

I have only made a 54 page comeback in that time.

This past week I read 61 pages. Almost double my weekly quota. And it took everything I had. My eyes are red, my head actually hurts, and… I now know that deep-six originally meant bury at sea.

Which is what I sometimes feel like doing with the dictionary.

But, you know, I’m an obstinate thing and I’ve dedicated myself to the dictionary. Dedicate, if you don’t know, means devote (oneself) to a noble task or purpose. So maybe that was a catachresis (an incorrect use of words) because I don’t know how noble reading the dictionary really is. Enough of this, though. Because all that reading means I have a lot of awesome things I feel I need to talk about. First up… the action of throwing (especially a person) out of a window has a word and that word is defenestration. Especially a person! I have no idea when I will ever get to use this knowledge, but I hope when the day comes… I’m ready.

Now, decadence. It brings up images of gourmet food right? Sweet chocolates of marginal size and exorbitant prices? Well. It is the moral or cultural deterioration especially after a peak or culmination of achievement. I will throw you a little bit of a bone: the third sense of the word decadent is (of food) very rich or sweet [with the implication that eating it is an act of self-indulgence] So the question you have to ask yourself is… is self-indulgence a bad thing?

Now one that I liked was devastating, meaning crushingly effective. That sounds pretty killer… So effective it destroyed, annihilated, crushed!

But don’t think the awesome stops there. My favourite word of the week is one you’ll all know (kind of like pretty much all of the ones I’ve already mentioned) and that word is delicious. The word itself could even be considered delicious as the second sense means entertaining; very enjoyable given that I clearly have been entertained by the first sense of it. The first sense being highly delightful and enjoyable to the taste or sense of smell. Come on. You totally have to picture your personified taste buds having a discussion about a “delightful” pastry like they’re a bunch of old British ladies at high tea. You didn’t picture that? Well, I’m glad I put that image in your head.

Then there is also the dawn chorus (the singing of many birds at the break of day) and cube farm (an office where the workspace is divided into cubes) and crocodile tears, meaning not giant tears, but insincere grief. And lastly, there is cowpunk which is a cow that farmers make look punk-like by piercing their ears with jewelry and putting spiked collars around their necks.Punk Cow

Didn’t fool you for a bit on that last one did I? Cowpunk is actually country/western music mixed with punk rock. I know. You’re thinking a genre mashup like that isn’t possible. But I’m not pulling your leg this time.

That’s all for this week, folks. I really do appreciate all of you who have been here sticking it out with me. So, thanks.

(And yes. I verbed dictionary in the post title. I also just verbed verb.)

Week Seventeen Stats

Starting Word: cowpoke               Ending Word: develop

Total Pages 412/1815                     Ahead/Behind: – 188

Dictionary Challenge Week 15/16: What Happened to Humanity?

I never thought reading the dictionary would make me sad. After all, we’ve been told since we were kids that words can’t hurt you. But we all know that isn’t true, don’t we? Words hurt when they’re flung out from ignorant minds, spat venomously from mouths lined with hate.

But that not the dictionary’s fault. It’s us.

We’re the ones who have created these words, who have continued to use them, have chosen to let hate be our guide. Some can sound pretty fun, like chucklehead. Or sometimes it’s not even the word at all, but how we say it. Like chit. But then there’s chicken shit or chump or cockteaser and things get a little gray.

And then you hear Coon or Chink.

And you have to wonder how we’ve let ourselves be able to treat any other person as less than our self. We are all humans and that’s what we should cling to. Not words of oppression or hate. Or their actions…

Where I have been most saddened is by the words that speak of the horrible things that we have created or done. There are too many. There are just too many.

You seDeath stabs a mane, Homo sapiens are the rulers or the animal kingdom. Not because we’re built with any particularly ferocious or defensive physical capabilities, but because of what’s in our brain pans. Our ability to think. And create. I suppose opposable thumbs certainly helps, but it is that we believe we are limitless in what we can do. Sure, the optimist says we’ll create all of these wonderful things like jet packs and have personal robots to do everything for us. But all that good we’re capable of, like saving the planet from unnecessary pollution, gets caught in the onslaught of everything that’s wrong with us. After all, we’re also the ones who have created cluster bombs and coffin nails and clip joints.

I mean, really. How can a person justify a bomb that sprays out more bombs? You can say we need to defend ourselves, but damn it – wouldn’t it be nice not to have to? I don’t like sounding like a hopeless left winger who still somehow believes that at their base every person is good. Because that’s not the way the world works. I get that. But you have to admit – wouldn’t it be nice if there were no war? No hate? No crime?

Ah, what a pipe dream.

Assassins, bear-baiting, benzene, bomblets, brick bats, cannon fodder, comfort women, the Children’s Crusade… I’m sitting here flipping these pages of the words that make up my language and its an onslaught of how brutal humanity can be. Page after page I’m regaled with things that people have done or created and I realize that we’re not as great as we think we are.

Because we’re destroying ourselves. Aren’t we?

Chucklehead (informal) a stupid person; a blockhead

Chit – (derogatory or jocular) a young and inexperience girl or woman

Chicken shit – (course slang) a coward

Chump – (informal) a gullible or foolish person

Cockteaser – (course slang) a woman regarded as provocatively refusing sexual intercourse

Coon – (slang offensive) a black person

Chink – (slang offensive) a Chinese person

Cluster bomb –an antipersonnel bomb spraying smaller bombs or shrapnel when detonated

Coffin nail – a cigarette

Clip joint – a nightclub etc charging exorbitant prices

Assassin – a killer, esp. of a political or religious leader

Bear-baiting – an entertainment involving setting dogs to attack a captive bear

Benzene – a colourless carcinogenic volatile liquid found in coal tar, petroleum, etc., and used as a solvent and in the manufacture or plastics etc.

Bomblet – a very small bomb

Brick bat – a piece of brick, esp. when used to throw at someone

Cannon fodder –  people, esp. soldiers, regarded merely as material to be expended in war

Comfort woman  – (in the second World War) a woman forcibly recruited by the Japanese army to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers

Children’s Crusade – a movement in 1212 in which tens of thousands of children (mostly from France and Germany) were organized for a crusade to the Holy Land. Most of the children never reached their destination, many being sold into slavery before embarking from French and Italian ports.


Week 15 & 16 Stats

Starting Word: Chindwin River          Ending Word: Cow-pie

Total Pages 350/1815                          Ahead/Behind: – 215

Dictionary Challenge Week 14: ‘C’ Words & Donald Trump

Today I’m going to read you a few of this week’s interesting words… and I know you’re just dying to know which ‘C’ words relate to the Donald so without further ado…

Week Fourteen Stats

Starting word: Cargo pants               Ending word: Chindit

Total Pages: 267/1815                        Ahead/Behind: -228 pages


Dictionary Challenge Week 13: Down with the All-Day Breakfast

I’m not picking any favourites this week. Instead, I want to share my thoughts on some of the contents of the 47 pages I read. So saddle up for this ride.

No PancakesThe subject of breakfast can be pretty contentious. Some people could eat breakfast morning, noon and night.. but I am not one of those people. I just prefer lunch foods. My dining companion, unfortunately, is all about breakfast. But now I get to throw the dictionary down in a glorious over-dramatic mic drop fashion… because breakfast is defined as the first meal of the day. That’s it. Once you’ve eaten, you can’t go back. You can’t re-break the fast of the night. There is only one breakfast per day. Down with the all-day breakfast! No more shall we have pancakes at 6 pm! No eggs for lunch! No bacon… wait, actually, yes. Bacon all the time. (There’s always an exception.)

Also of importance is that the slang version of breakfast is spelled brekkie. I really thought it would be breaky.

Now I gotta talk dinosaur for a moment. Dinosaurs in general are just awesome. I probably wouldn’t think that if I existed back in their day or found myself cowering under the counter while raptors prowled the premises. I never thought the brontosaurus was the most awesome of the dinosaurs (I’ve always wanted to physically be able to fly so of course I’m a pterodactyl kinda gal. I know… I’ll never be able to fly.) but! Brontosaurus comes from Latin, bronte meaning thunder and sauros meaning lizard, so put it all together and you got one brobdingnagian THUNDER LIZARD! Oh yeah. That sounds pretty damn cool.

Oh, are you wondering about brobdingnagian? Yeah that means gigantic, colossal. It’s a bit of a mouthful.

But let’s not dwell on that. There are more important things ahead! As in the definition for brunette is a woman with dark brown hair. What about the men!? Naturally, there can be no dark brown-haired men in the world if the dictionary hasn’t allowed for it. I kid. I’ve noticed a huge gap in words that are designated for women or men only, despite that there are aren’t just bat boys, but also bat girls even though only bat boy exists in the dictionary or how a ballerina is defined as a female ballet dancer, but the men have no distinctive title and must exist under the non specific title of ballet dancer. There’s a bigger can of worms to be opened here, but this is as far as I’ll go… today.

Okay, actually just one last delve into this topic. Bombshell.

  1. An overwhelming surprise or disappointment
  2. An artillery bomb
  3. An attractive woman

What do these three things have in common? Really. You tell me. An attractive woman is a disappointment? Or it’s surprising to find a really attractive woman? Or when you see an attractive woman, you’ll be bombed which will at first be a surprise and then, of course, be quite the disappointment.

I do find it pretty interesting how words gain multiple meanings.

But now, I’ll wrap things up with some fun stuff. Like the phrase ‘go bush’ meaning leave one’s usual surroundings; run wild. And I like that. But then again, I always have a romantic notion of running wild and being free so of course I’d like this one. I’ve also finished up with the B section and am now in the Cs. So here’s my first C word that I like: cahoots. It just sounds so cute. Well, the cute way of saying in collusion. Which is a lot less cute. But when you pull out ‘cahoots’ you can only really use it to describe the neighbourhood kids planning an elaborate plan to retrieve an autographed ball from the yard of a terrifying beast of a dog.

I also like canoodle (kiss and cuddle amorously)…. both the word and the doing.

What I don’t like, at least the idea of, is cantharides. Which I just learned about. This is a preparation made from dried bodies of a particular type of beetle, causing blistering of the skin and formerly used in medicine and sometimes taken as an aphrodisiac. I think I just heard you all say WTF right along with me. Perhaps this is where S&M began. No, don’t think about that. Don’t think about it! This is kind of like when you think of stuff like the first person who thought jumping out of a plane was a good idea or the first person to risk a heart transplant. Potentially fatal, but someone had to do it right? Hopefully the blister beetle lessons have been learned.

Anyways, that wraps up week thirteen. The good news is that I haven’t fallen further behind. This was my most successful week and I managed to make a few pages of a comeback. Which was actually disheartening because I buckled down and put in a lot of time this week and though I read almost 50 pages, I only came out of the hole by about 15. In other (probably not) interesting news… I have read 230 pages altogether and I am also behind by 230 pages. So. There’s that.

Week Thirteen Stats

Starting Word: Break dancing            Ending Word: Cargo Cult

Total Pages 230/1815                           Ahead/Behind: – 230