Purplendicular is a word that I invented. It means something that is purple and perpendicular (obviously). Of course, in order for something to be perpendicular (or purplendicular) - it has to be in relation to other things.
I really like the idea of something being purplendicular, because it is so crystalline. There is nothing ambiguous about this word. It limits. First, it is a word that can only occur in relation to other things, and there’s something inherently appealing about that. I mean, what is there in this world that is not actually in relation to other things?
And, truth be told, the world is so full of confusing, ambiguous things - I like limits. This relates directly to why I enjoy Crossword Puzzles. They are right, or they are wrong. I like when things are one or the other. Is it wrong to be a republican? Yes and no. Is this the word that fits in these squares that will allow the other words to fit in their squares? It is. Or it isn’t. But at the very least, it’s not up for debate. It makes me feel calmer that there are things like that.
It’s weird, but I remember my English teacher in high school saying something about how surprise wasn’t always spelled with that extra R, and then all of a sudden, it was.
I think he’s right. All I need now is a picture of a su(r)prise party from the 70s or 80s, with a banner hanging in the background, to prove it.
If he is correct, the shift was all but imperceptible. And that is what I am truly interested in. Whenever I come across the word, I wonder about it. Did it used to be suprise? I certainly think it did. How did it change? What was the impetus? Did the shift happen organically? Or did a few people decide to switch it up, and the rest of us just went along because no one really pays all that much attention to spelling anyhow?
And then I think of the movie “The Shadow” with Alec Baldwin. There’s this great scene where he’s walking past what looks like a vacant lot, and the exposition is that the lair of the bad guy (a giant skyscraper) is hidden from almost all of the people in the city. There he is, there IT is, right in front of them - but people only see a vacant lot, because they forget to look; to take notice; and then it’s gone because they never really saw it to begin with. For the most part, they ignore the building when they walk by it - and so, with just the tiniest mental effort from the villian (the last descendant of Genghis Khan, I believe); just the mere suggestion that that city block is a vacant lot; everyone believes it.
I think this is how su(r)prise got an extra R: Because of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. Or, more accurately, because we just don’t pay very much attention. One day, it’s “Suprise!” The next day, you type “suprise” and it’s underlined in red on spellcheck. And you think “that’s funny” and correct it and move on. Or, you think “Wait, isn’t there an extra R now?” and someone else says “No, I don’t think so. It’s always been like that.” And then you think “Huh. Oh well.” And you don’t think about it again.
Makes me want to pay more attention to other words - and take pictures of them in banners and such - so that when they lose or gain letters, we can trace it. Who’s with me?
Clearly, in my most recent post, I meant ‘as dusk fell’, not ‘as duck fell’. I was under deadline, as I mentioned (12 minutes), but that’s no excuse. Thanks, Tara (and I imagine Andrew) for pointing that out.
Also, I wanted to add that there was a point yesterday that is was not only 8-9-10, but 5:06:07 on 8-9-10. Ah, maths. Ah, brits.
This one isn’t so much a theory as a moment to note that today’s date is 8-9-10! I love little things like that!
There is a theory here somewhere, though. It might only come out if I keep writing, but it’s already 11:48, so I have to publish this in 12 minutes or less (note: fewer is not applicable here, because 12 minutes is a single amount. I was nervous about that, but I now finally understand that damn rule). So the theory might have to wait. Related to the forthcoming theory is also this: I was sitting on a rooftop porch on the Upper West Side tonight, looking around as duck fell, thinking how strange it was to be looking at such an urban landscape in such a rural mindset, and I realized that Manhattan looks like a forest of buildings. They’re different heights, widths, and they’re really majestic in the same way the the Redwoods are. And also in the most completely different way possible. I love little things like that too!
The theory must have something to do with the little things: those tiny, unexpected moments that I often find because, honestly, I am so forgetful. Having a mind like a colander (this has been my theory of my brain of late) is both frustrating and delightful. Some pretty big things fall through, and the tiniest, most useless trivia gets stuck. But then I forget about things that delight me, and when I remember them, it’s often like a first discovery - and they delight me all over again. I’m 32, and I’ve lived in New York for almost 7 years. I am CERTAIN that I’ve looked at the Manhattan skyline before and found it more than a little bit stunning. But I forgot. And so to discover it again tonight was such a lovely surprise - and a lovely reminder - of how cool stuff is.
* I am in the midst of composing a Su(r)prise Theory about how every time I see or think or hear or write that word, I am thrown into a state of confusion. Stay tuned for more on that.
So, this morning I sat next to a very nice older gentleman on the subway. I was doing my crossword and had my headphones in. He was clearly watching me do my crossword (and, I imagine, he was quite impressed) and eventually decided to engage me, headphones and all:
“Is that a computer?”
Not wanting to be rude, because maybe I misunderstood his intention, I said meekly “It’s an iPhone?”
“So, it’s a computer?”
“You’re doing a crossword.”
“Can you check stock prices?”
“And it’s a phone, too.” Somehow he seemed to know this already, which in the context of the rest of the story is pretty uncanny.
“Yes. It’s great - I love it. I don’t need to carry around the paper anymore, and there are games…”
“And it can hold - say, 50 people in the contact list?”
“Yeah.” Not sure if he is kidding, again. ”Hundreds, I would imagine.”
“Wow. Who makes it?”
Again, quite timidly, because I am not sure that this is real, I answer him honestly “Apple.”
He pulls out his old cell phone and looks at it sort of dismissively. ”I remember when a computer was as big as this subway car. A building, even. You remember that?”
“Well, I don’t remember it myself, but I do know about them.” I am thinking of ENIAC, which I incidentally only know about from said crosswords, and he nods. I show him the Stocks App. He asks me if I can get him a quote right then, and I tell him no because we’re underground. He still seems reasonably impressed, and we discuss the pros and cons: mainly expense vs. convenience. Then he asks me what I do, and I tell him I work in Arts Education; for a not-for-profit. He asks me how we raise money, and I tell him we don’t really do a very good job of it, and he gives me some ideas and some tips - really good, useful advice. He tells me I am doing good work - maybe not lucrative - but important.
The theory is that you should be nice to crazy old men on the subway, because they might be rich and crazy (read: eccentric) and they also might be brilliant geniuses (that’s right, brilliant geniuses) who will help you with some unsolicited yet insightful career advice and general knowledge about the world.
The term “litmus test” has been adopted from science (you know, science!) to mean a way of judging where a person stands. The so-called “litmus test” is a way for people to feel ok about liking or not liking, being liked or not being liked (which is maybe more to the point) new people based on their interests, their senses of humor, their shared morality - what have you. I think that’s pretty universally true.
I think a hilarious litmus test (and I come up with these so-called “litmus tests” whenever I use a phrase in a new social setting, and it doesn’t land the way I imagined it) is saying to someone “The world can be divided into 2 kinds of people…”
Some people bristle immediately. Some people jump impetuously and endearingly right in and agree. Some wait to hear what your follow-up is. The follow-up is, obviously, “those who divide the world into 2 kinds of people, and those who don’t.”
It’s the truth in it that makes me giggle. I mean, if you agree with the beginning, you prove me right. But even if you disagree with the beginning, you prove me right.
It might be the best sentence ever.
Fact: I make up somewhat scientific theories based on my - let’s call it dilettantish - knowledge of any number of subject matters.
Incident: I have somehow bleached a small spot on my left eye-lash. I was sitting in my backyard this weekend, and when I arose and tried to continue with regular, daily tasks - I felt like I had something right above my eye - like a sleepy (that’s what we call them in my family. I prefer that term to “eye-booger”).
Aftermath: I continually see a light spot above my eye, and feel like there’s something there.
Supporting Evidence (ok, not really evidence, but how I developed my theory and why I am pretty much sure it’s true): I know some people have blonde eyelashes. And my hunch is that they do not go about life thinking they have something stuck in their eyelashes. So, that means that they’re used to seeing what I am now seeing - a light area just above the field of vision.
My Theory: People can see their eyelashes, and so I think that our brains start to make small adjustments when we’re very young to accommodate (and then block out entirely) those “eyelash views”. I bet they become almost like Eyelash Blind-Spots. I mean, when you think about it, the brain flips images of the world upside down, so it’s not crazy talk to imagine that it can block out small infringements in our fields of vision so that we don’t continually wonder what those eyelashes are blocking. Those eyelashes are there to protect our eyes, so our brains wouldn’t want us to go and pluck them out or try to get rid of them. Therefore, evolutionarily speaking - we need the Eyelash Blind Spot.
This is just going to be a quick post regarding Heat. Just to get myself into the swing of things.
The city of New York has just texted me to let me know that it’s hot out. I like to think that there’s some sort of thinking computer that said to itself “Self, of all the people in New York - you’d better text this one. She probably won’t notice otherwise. In fact, I’d email her as well. Just to be sure she realizes that it’s hot.”
My theory: Notify NYC somehow knows that I am the sort of person who, without a text, might somehow fail to notice how hot it is outside. And they’re looking out for me. Thanks, New York.
I had a friend tell me once that I am a theorist. I love that. And lisps make me giggle.