Friday, June 30, 2006

Did I warn you that I have the occasional dark mood? Damn. Last night's post was heavier than an anvil atop a crate of eggs. That previous sentence is a 'Dina-ism' according to Demi. You met her in a previous post. She's the poet hiding out as a school administrator. So. She's in San Francisco visiting her friend Michelle who pays more for renting her loft than most of us do for a mortgage. She calls wanting my infinite guidance. And some of my twisted brand of humour. Demi is angsting over a brief encounter way in her past, why she never got closure and I gave her several more Dinaisms. Here are a few:

  • Honey, you chewed all the goody out of that piece of gum. It's time to take it out of your mouth and stick it under the bench.
  • Processing a failed relationship is like ironing a shirt - you press the collar, then the sleeves, the plackets, then the fronts and finally, the back. It's a process. When it's smooth, you're done.
  • Replace the name of the suspect with the word 'daddy'. That will give you a lot more insight into the relationship than trying to figure out why you never got a call.

I have lots of Dinaisms. It's my love of words. I collect them. You already have a pretty good guess that I feel the human experience needs to be chronicled much more richly than a mere four or five words can service it. I love blending them. I love weaving metaphors, making old meanings into something more. I love to stretch their definitions into something more than mere serviceable. There's the thrill of using them out of context and watching the expressions on people's faces when it hits home. I want words to be all that they can be in the army of life. Because life deserves being painted into something that anyone merely reading about it can understand from a sparse sentence. If you weren't there for the experience, how else can I tell you about all the shades and nuances, the depth of the pain, the little looks in the dance experience that says more than it was a 'good ballet'?

How can we ever tell someone about the depth of our grief, our disappointments, our cringe moments if we don't paint with words? The listener wasn't there to hear the sentence that twisted like a knife after the setup that promised something - an outcome radically different than the one that we had. "He told me he needed his space," stirs one vision.

But when you have some setup details like, "We have just finished making the most exquisite, delightful love after the beautiful dinner he cooked. He had the table set perfectly, too! He sent me the most beautiful roses earlier in the day with this sweet little note. We're lying there in the candlelight, drinking champagne he had chilled. He smoothes my hair and kisses me on top of my head. Then, he murmurs into my ear, 'I think I need some time away from you. I need some space. I'm feeling pressured to make the relationship more permanent by you' ."

See. Now you get it. Now you feel the shock and disbelief. You see that there was this hugely inappropriate setup bordering on passive aggressive behaviour that came from left field. You know the sting of the words I heard. You now feel the panic and disorientation and confusion about what to do or say next. You feel the shame and the guilt. Start thinking about what I did wrong when there was nothing I did that was not out of line with the romancing that has taken place. Up until now. So when you use your own 'isms' in your word paintings, you are being real for that person, really sharing the experience the way that it happened.

Communication is one grand tool we have in our arsenal. It took centuries for us to walk upright and our skulls to shift back on our backbone allowing the intricate development of vocal chords and the ability to speak with one another. Don't we owe it to the further evolution of speech to squeeze the shit out of every word that we utter?

Now. That doesn't mean that some crap comes out of my mouth. I hear/read words I've uttered and scratch my head at the devolution I've committed. But it's part of the process, part of taking small, wobbly drunk, first baby steps towards truly getting IT right.

When we were first gifted with speech, anthropology linguists believe that our first stabs were small, guttural utterances. Over time we began naming things and stringing words together. Then came sentences, paragraphs, storytelling, writing accounts, wills, letters, novels.

Writing to me is a process akin to other creative endeavors. You draw stick figures, start giving them expressions, learn color and perspective and composition. Then you paint Guernica.

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