26 September 2007

Malapropisms, Mondegreens, Manques, and Me

The call for Judith Heart Song's September's Artsy Essay:  The Obscure Artsy Word List

Things are not always as they seem.  This post could be funny, but it most likely will not be.  It may be painful, for me to write and for you to read.  So ya know, skip this entry if you'd like.  It's not like I'll hunt you down and/or bombard your eMail with whining inquiries and pleas.  Or spam your comments.  Cuz that'd just be wrong.  Wouldn't it?

Things are not always as they seem.  When I was younger, a teenager, I remember how silly I felt when I first realized that the lyrics that I'd been belting out for Boys of Summer (Don Henley's 84 version) were not "dead head stickin" but were "deadhead sticker".  It was funny tho, once I got over the stupid-feeling part, and could appreciate the humor of that mondegreen.  Cuz if you did see a dead head stickin on a cadillac, wouldn't a lil voice inside your head say, don't look back?  Yes, I think so.  I know I would be having a whole choir of lil voices inside my head instructing me to not look back!

Things are not always as they seem.  We've all heard and probably committed spoonerisms and malapropisms and Freudian slips and all those verbal slips and gaffes that embarrass and create sticky situations.  Hell, even the president has given us much fodder, taking misspoken words and phrases to a whole new level.  And as an American, I feel acute embarrassment that a leader who is so well-educated and should by all rights be very eloquent, if not at the very least well-spoken, can and does bungle things so severely.  And that we continue to endorse him as president and that we even re-elected the shithead.  I'm sorry, for us and for the rest of the world.

Things are not always as they seem.  "I coulda binna contendah" was Brando's memorable line in On the Waterfront.  I'm not familiar with the actual movie, but that speech of his character's comes to mind from time to time.  For those of you not familiar with the third most oft quoted movie lines to make an impact on pop culture (right behind "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse", also spoken by Brando's character in The Godfather, and "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"), the lines are as follows:
       You don't understand!  I coulda had class.  I coulda been a contender.  I could've been a contender.  I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

Now, before you rush to reassure, admonish, or espouse me in comments with how regrets can be wasteful, cuz ya can get stuck in the past; or how I'm still young and have alotta life in me yet; or how I oughta put on my big-girl panties and suck it up, essentially pulling myself up by my bootstraps...before ya do all that, or any of it, let me say:  I know.  I get it.  I got it.  I will continue to get it.

But just cuz I understand something doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it.  And just cuz I know something in my head, doesn't necessarily mean that I have let that knowledge inform my heartfelt beliefs.  If I could and would, which I probably should, really believe that; then, I would be so much better off.  Cuz there'd be so much more internal harmony and peace.  Coulda woulda shoulda.

And maybe I will, eventually get it, in all ways.  Eventually that might happen.  But for now, I'm still getting there.

They say I'm stuck in a grieving process.  They say that I haven't yet accepted that who I am doesn't depend on what I can do, what I do do, and what I have done.  They say that my worth doesn't depend on my role as an active student, striding forth, completing my PhD.  They say that my self-identity is not determined by my abilities or the lack thereof.  They say all that, and mean all that and I say that to others and mean it for others.  But I don't get it for me.  I don't really believe that; because it was who I was, who I thought I'd get back to being, and now I have to accept the very real likelihood that that might not be who I will ever be again.  I coulda been a contender.  Now, I'm a bum.

Now before you rush to reassure or admonish that I am not a bum; let me say that I get it, I got it, I will continue to get it.  Really I do.  But it is extremely difficult to feel that I am not a bum, when I am under review for the continuation of disability benefits.  It is extremely difficult to feel that I am not a bum when the representative for the Office of Conditional Disability in the Department ofEducation is telling me that I ought to be in a coma if I cannot work.  It is decidedly difficult to feel unbumlike when my own mother sighs, "yes she had so much potential, but look at her now."

In many ways, I'm just a manque.  I coulda been something, but I'm not.  Well, I am.  I exist, and so I am something.  And one day, I hope to really get it, I hope to believe it, truly with my all, that I am not a bum.  I hope to one day get and truly wholeheartedly believe that I am not defined by what I cannot do; rather than I am defined at least to those who matter, by my wonderful attributes and characteristics and what it is that I can do and do do.

(*my landlord just pounded on the door, it might have been a good place to end this anyway)


  1. ahhhh... do I ever understand this post. I am glad you wrote it, glad you shared it, and glad that you are on this big blue earth with me. I wish for peace for both of us, and am so glad that I know you. Brilliantly written.

    Quote from me: "The truth ain't always pretty." And I am glad you tell your truth. I will continue to tell mine as well.

    Thank you for writing, I hope the landlord went away.


  2. I have the heart and spirit of a bum -- and that's not neccessarily a bad thing. IMO


  3. What I know in my head and the beliefs that I act upon are often out of whack. Sometimes I think that I suffer from a personality disorder, other times I figure that I'm just garden variety nuts. Ah well, hang in there, we nuts have to hang together. (I make really bad puns.)--Sheria

  4. Your talent in your use of the written language has been an ispiration to me as I read this contest entry.
    I can sense your frustration.  Do you know something?   You have a very rare gift in being able to express yoursef fluently for us all to understand and empathise with the bitter sweet place you find yourself in now.
    It made me care about your frustrations over the Office of Conditional Disability.  I've been there on my own behalf her in England when I suffered a long illness.
    Your manque of your talents and the frustration and pain that that leaves you with is self flagellation.  I see a very intelligent clever person who should take George Bush's place on the podium...lol!   You would get it said and done to a magnificent round of applause.  Just as this clever entry deserves.
    'let me say that I get it, I got it, I will continue to get it.  Really I do.'
    I echo this in what you have written.

    You are definitely not a bum.  You are YOU!  A uniquely talented person.
    My good wishes to you in the competition.
    All the best!


  5. Oh, I definitely get it. Been down that road for the past few weeks. Well said dear heart and eloquently at that. Oftentimes we don't see our own worth in the eyes of those that love us just as we are. It's well known the hardest critic to satisfy is your own voice. Beautifully written! (Hugs) Indigo

  6. I get it.  I got it.  I will continue to get it.  

    I do too.  Deb, I loved this post.  No it wasn't funny although you tend to have a touch of humor in all of your writing.  Matters not to me.  Matters to me that you get it, you share it and we read it.  

    Cheering you on!

  7. A wonderful post indeed...


  8. Thank you. i understand.


Thanks for taking the time and effort to let your thoughts be known!