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 Weeks 8-12: I’m Back! Behind! And still on B!

I’m back at it! Sorry for leaving you, my few fans, high and dry.

So I’ve had a couple of goose eggs on the scoreboard for Weeks 8 and 9, plus a poor showing for weeks 10, 11, and 12. But I swear I haven’t been bone-idle (utterly idle or lazy), instead I have been becoming a bon vivant! (A person indulging in good living) Although, I do feel like a bit of a boob (A foolish or stupid person) now that I am over 200 hundred pages behind. But I swear I am coming back to my bookish (studious, fond of reading) ways.

You see, I’ve made the great trek across the Country, leaving behind the brass monkey (used to indicate extreme cold) of the sub-arctic for the blazing heat of the Okanagan… A place where my once prized wild lion’s mane is now far too bouffant. (Puffed out) I can actually feel my hair sweating. Okay. Maybe not. But, you know, still. It’s hot rocking this much hair.

Anyways! Let’s not dwell on my shortcomings. I have finally settled down and I’m ready to make the greatest comeback of the year.  I’ll leave no word unread! No definition unseen! I will toss caution to the wind and read in the dark! I will pour over these pages leaving no page un-turned! I… well… to put it simply – I’m just going to read. A lot.

Now, even though I haven’t turned a lot of pages over the last few weeks, I still have a great line up for you:

  1. Boondoggle: work of little or no value done merely to appear busy
  2. Brand new: completely or obviously new
  3. Bomblet: a very small bomb
  4. Brainpan: the skull
  5. Bone Shaker: a type of bike with solid tires. 2. A decrepit or uncomfortable old vehicle
  6. Blind pig: an illegal bar
  7. Boff: have sexual intercourse with
  8. Blue tit: A common European bird, Parus Caeruleus, with a distinct blue crest on a black and white head

Oh boy! Where to start, right? For those following along, you know I have a soft spot for goofy sounding words and we all know boondoggle fits the bill. Plus, I feel like no word and definition pairing could be better. (Okay, okay. Maybe there’s a lot of ties for first place) So, we’ve all been there. Boondoggling the day away ‘cause it’s slow at work but you’ve still got to put in your 9-5 to bring home the bacon. At least when you’re stuck there, you can get some slight enjoyment using the word boondoggle.

[Side note: most of my top picks usually get smacked with a searing red line of spelling shame because Microsoft Word clearly doesn’t have the same standards as the Oxford Dictionary when it comes to words in their reserve. But. Boondoggle isn’t getting flagged by spell check. It’s a legitimate word recognized not only by Oxford, but also Microsoft Word. I’m surprised.]

[Side, Side Note: WordPress isn’t as up to speed.]

Next, I want to make fun of brand new. This gets used everywhere, especially in advertising. (And yeah, I totally use it as an intensifier too.) But it’s ridiculous. If something is new – then it’s new. You can’t have newer than new. It’s like infinity. You can’t have an infinity of infinity. This isn’t inception here. Similarly, I find somewhat of an issue with bomblet…. a tiny bomb is still “a container with explosive, incendiary material…” that is designed to destroy! It sounds cute, but it could kill you.

With the next word, we’re back  on the positive side of things. How awesome is brainpan? A few years back I was racing a kamikaze down a black diamond run and due to my competitive nature, when I wiped out, I smashed my brainpan on the ice and got a concussion. Which really sucked, but could have been made so much better by getting to make the brainpan reference.

The next two words are so bad ass. Well, if they were bar or store names. If I owned a bike shop I would definitely call it Bone Shaker and completely ignore the second sense of the word. But maybe I’ll own a bar, in which case I would obviously call it the Blind Pig even though I’m sure I’d run a legal business…. (Okay, actually… on this subject, I perhaps already operated a Blind Pig when I was in my youthful University days. Just for two nights… but that is something I will neither confirm, nor deny.)

Now that we’ve covered libations, let’s talk about sex. Who is ever going to say “I boff with Suzanne”? I’m sure she’s nice, but… boff? It reminds me of Road Trip with DJ Qualls where he says “I boinked her”. At the bottom, I posted a poor quality video I found of that scene so you can see how bogus it is to use the word boink or boff sexually.

A Blue Tit

And now we’re at the final word. Blue tit. You may have heard of blue balls. Well. Blue tit is nothing like that. So get your mind out of the gutter.

That’s it for covering the last 5 weeks of this challenge. As a bonus for sticking around while I went on somewhat of a hiatus, I’m going to put something up after the weekend where you get to watch me try to prove my newfound knowledge. So stay posted for that.

Week 8 Stats: N/A

Week 9 Stats: N/A

Week 10 Stats:

­­­­­­­­­Starting Word: biweekly        Ending Word: blow

Total Pages 158/1815             Ahead/Behind: – 197

­­­­­­­­­­­­­Week 11 Stats:

Starting Word: blow               Ending Word: bona fides

Total Pages 166/1815             Ahead/Behind: – 224

Week 12 Stats:

Starting Word: Bonaire          Ending Word: breakbeat

Total Pages 183/1815             Ahead/Behind: – 242

Dictionary Challenge Week Seven: Let’s Talk Big

I’m in the middle of an exciting life upheaval in which there are friends to see, bags to pack and miles to drive – all of which has put me further behind on this challenge so today I’m keeping things short. What you’re about to watch is what it feels like reading the dictionary sometimes… just a teensy bit monotonous.

Week Seven Stats

Starting word: Bidwell, Marshall Spring                  Ending word: bivouac

Pages: 141-148                                                             Total Pages: 148/1815

Ahead/Behind: -102 pages

Dictionary Challenge Week One: Slaughtered

I’m a week in. That’s the equivalent of 70 pages. 70 dictionary pages. This isn’t like picking up a Calvin and Hobbes collection or Into The Wild or diving into some 50 Shades action. This isn’t even like reading the encyclopedia where you can get carried away into the story or the references.

This is an onslaught. And I’m losing. Bad.

Of those 70 dictionary pages that should be under my belt after one week, I’ve managed to only lock in 10. Yup, that’s right. Just 10 pages. Perhaps I jumped the gun and should have started a week from now when I’ll be more commitment-less or perhaps I shouldn’t be so confident in my ability to succeed. Except that neither of those things really matter.

Starting a week or two later really wouldn’t have changed anything – as the saying goes, there is never a good time. You can plan and put off, but eventually you just have to jump in or else you’ll never do it. So here I am, sinking fast, but still at least trying to go the distance. My real fault might lie in the fact that I can crush any work of fiction and, to a lesser extent, non-fiction. I assumed I’d be able to do the same with the dictionary. Clearly, I was wrong.

I’ll be honest. It’s pretty boring for most of the slog, but every once in awhile a word pops up that grabs my attention or piques my interest. Like the word acephalous. It means headless. And maybe that’s a little weird that that’s the word that caused me to pay attention. But, I mean, really – how bad ass would it be to write some haunting, Mary Shelley-esque sentence for a short story or a novel? “And an acephalous body crept past in the moonlight…”

Bad-assery aside, I’ve already learned a few things. Like how close the words accomplice and accomplish really are. They’re listed right after one another and sound suspiciously similar and yet seem to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum. But I suppose to the guy robbing a bank with his getaway driver accomplice, it’s still an accomplishment when they pull off the heist despite the illegality of it all.

All in all, I have a more sobering picture of what the next 6 months are going to be like and it’s just slightly terrifying. As terrifying as running into an acephalous man in a dark alley… Maybe? Maybe not. Either way, I’m being slaughtered out there so far with this challenge, but – as always – upward and onward.

WEEK ONE STATS:

Starting word: A                        Ending word: Acid House

Pages: 1-11                                 Total Pages: 10/1850

Ahead/Behind: -60 pages

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 23: Liquid Courage

Yesterday was a catastrophe so today I decided to hit the bottle to help me through. Drinking BeerJust kidding. Sort of. It was a beer-battered mushroom popper kind of day.

Throughout the prep and cooking, I started to feel that these were going to be delicious, but the events of yesterday still haunted me as I took my first bite. Everything but the mushroom was really awesome: the batter on the shroom, the dip to accompany it, and the beer to wash it down. Despite all of that, the mushroom was still an upset. Like yesterday, I had to bite into the whole mushroom and it was not enjoyable. As I looked at the half still in my hand it was like I was re-living yesterday: the same gross grey fat blob peered out from inside the batter and I could feel my instinctual gag-reflex rising up inside. I battled it back down and popped the other half into my mouth.

It’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s not as bad it’s not as bad it’s not as bad it’s not as bad it’s not as bad it’s not as bad…

Bile and vomit rise up in my throat. I force it back. I eat another. I don’t take a bite – I put the whole thing in my mouth so I don’t have to see the insides. It helps. A little. I chew slowly focusing more on the gag that is still trying to erupt from the pit of my stomach than on the actual mushroom itself. I know it isn’t as bad. But like some horrible mind game, every time I blink mushrooms flash across my thoughts and I keep seeing the other half of the mushroom. I try to force it out of my mind, but it keeps pulsing back in like a terrible techno beat.

I eat another.

I dig in deep, reaching down into the very pit of my stubbornness. I refuse to quit. I will not let the shroom win. I will be victorious! The impulse to gag hovers at the top of my throat. I will not barf. I will not gag. I won’t be as weak as yesterday.

Somehow I make it. I sit back in my chair and cradle the beer. I sit there long after the mushrooms are gone and the meal is over. Like reflecting on a bad night out, I can still feel the impulse to upchuck lurking inside. I can tell a line has been drawn in the pit of my stomach. I came to the edge of it yesterday; today I crossed it. I don’t feel particularly proud because I wouldn’t say that I overcame my aversion, but rather that I am so damn ornery that I forced myself to endure it.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Sauce – mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, Dijon, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic

Beer Battered Mushrooms – cremini mushrooms, flour, chives, thyme, salt, pepper, dark beer (I used Sasquatch Stout from Old Yale Brewing Co…. it was great), and vegetable oil

Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 22: Death Skulls & The One-Bite Heartbreak

I’m a little furious over today’s recipe. Aside from MushBurg One, I’ve finished every meal until this catastrophe.

When I chose what recipes I would take on at the beginning, I stumbled across “Mushroom Skulls” and it just seemed so perfect. The name was accurate given that mushrooms have historically made me feel like death, the recipe had just two ingredients, and there was a bit of artistic work involved in making them look like skulls. Unfortunately, I only glanced over the instructions. It seemed simple so I thought it was a slam dunk of a recipe. Wrong.

Mushroom Skulls

 

You cook the mushrooms and then you let them get cold. Again, I didn’t think too much of this until they were getting cold and when I touched them the wrongness of the situation came rushing at me like an avalanche of dawning horror. This was not supposed to be the worst meal. However, today I tumbled and fell and crashed and burned. I’m talking half a mushroom here. I ate half a mushroom. One bite.

This is incredibly disappointing. I was doing so well. I didn’t even see it coming. Blind-sided by a death skull… Half a stinkin’ mushroom!

This recipe is ridiculous. A fresh whole, uncooked mushroom – I got it. Even a cooked mushroom – I stand a decent chance. But a cooked mushroom that sits on the counter until it gets cold? Why? Why would someone do that? It’s not good. It’s not okay. It’s every sort of awful.

I bit into it and the texture wasn’t like a fresh mushroom; it was like a cooked mushroom because, obviously, it was cooked once upon a time. And it was cold so it was like the equivalent of drinking cold coffee. Not iced coffee, mind you, but your piping hot, brewed up exactly right cup of coffee that you absent-mindedly let sit on the counter until you pick it up three-quarters of an hour later, take a big gulp and realize how much time has passed because it feels like the cold kiss of death on your lips.

I looked at the other half of the mushroom that I still held in my hand while trying to swallow the first bite. It was gray and gelatin looking – like something that wasn’t cooked, but should have been – almost like a cross-section of fat that had sat on the counter until it started to go bad and turned gray. I could feel that cold, decaying fat slab in my mouth. There was no escape. It had to go down. I swallowed… and I was done.

One bite. Heartbreaking.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Mushroom Skulls – white button mushrooms and balsamic vinegar