Dictionaries

June 23, 2011

I have just relinquished my very large Webster Dictionary. It was chunkier than two phone books, another anachronism. More often than not these past few years, I have looked words up on the internet, and received definitions and etymologies—instantly.

This particular dictionary of which I speak today, and which I relinquished the day before yesterday and already miss, was published by Barnes & Noble ten years ago or so and when an erudite friend of mine told me about it—it was on sale—I rushed out to buy it. Not that there was a rush on dictionaries, but I get excited about dictionaries and the words therein, words I might one day make use of in my writings. So I bought the dictionary, a dictionary of the American English language, which complemented the very large two volume Oxford English Dictionary bequeathed to me by my stepfather, an immigrant who learned English as a Second Language and spoke it with depth and distinction.

I have no idea how or when the Webster will arrive in Mongolia, where it is headed. A former colleague, who taught English there for two years, sends boxes of resource materials to a small village school. Maybe by the time the tome arrives, the villagers will have internet service and they can use the dictionary as a door stop or winter fuel. They might or might not have a memory of the Oxford tomes, which I donated several years ago. To follow the path of these donations would be an interesting adventure, into the past, which is just a few steps behind us.

A Soldier's Story

June 20, 2011

We are a country at war sending out a volunteer army of mostly young men and women. This post is dedicated to our fighting forces and to all the returning soldiers, may they live with ease. If they are able to speak when they return, they have stories. I have tried to gather a few of them, and it has not been easy. I abandoned a book proposal a year ago, though I may return to it. A soldier’s story surfaces in dreams or it is held in silence, too awful to be told. I am on the look-out for soldiers and their loved ones every day. I want to talk to them, thank them, and console them. On Friday, I encountered one such story as I was checking out at Trader Joe’s. The young man scanning my groceries was a soldier and I cannot even say he is a former soldier because he may be deployed again. He has already been in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. He scanned my groceries, lining them up neatly, packing them carefully, thoughtfully. He had tattoos all over his arms and what I could see of his chest above the line of his tee-shirt and onto his hands and slender fingers. The tattoos were hard to decipher against his brown sugar skin so I asked them what they were about, what they meant, and every one of them was a story about men and women he loved. And the tattoos I couldn’t see were about peace and love with a dove of peace on his left chest below his heart. “Love conquers all,” he said. “I don’t want to fight again.”

“What will you do if you are re-deployed?”

“I will go again and fight in a senseless war. All the soldiers know what’s on the ground if only our commanders and politicians asked us. But they don’t.”

The line was forming behind me, people waiting to be served. I could have stayed talking to this young, polite, earnest man all day. It was touching the way he spoke to me and asked how I would like my groceries packed, and then packed them carefully so that the eggs would not crack and neither bag would be too heavy.

I wanted to hear more about his tattoos and I wanted our politicians to hear his stories.




Follow Me

June 10, 2011

I just opened a Twitter account and, dear reader, have no idea what I am doing just yet. I think it’s free advertising, no? Or a running commentary on whatever we choose to comment upon. Do people tweet more than once a day, every hour, every minute? Is this like texting? Do people write back to one another? Is this, in fact, writing, sound byting, or a new form of poetry?

One of my students suggested I begin tweeting at the end of last term. I looked her up—Lara Salahi, she works at ABC—and sure enough she was there and I have elected and selected to “follow her.” She’s an interesting person, she writes well, so I am sure I will be interested in what she has to say. She had mentioned that a print out of her Twitter tweets gathered together onto one page reads like a narrative. That was good news and spurred me on during this week I’m having of solidifying and updating my social networks. I’ve also made some changes on my Amazon Author Central page. And now I am resting as I write this blog, and doing my laundry. What else do writers do all day?

If you would like to follow me, here's my address:

bergman_carol

Any suggestions for tweeting are welcome.



Suddenly, It's Summer

June 8, 2011

…and more than a month since I have written a blog. Why? Because I am moving. What does a writer do when her writing life is disrupted? Lament. So, this is a lamentation of sorts, though it won’t go on too long, dear reader. In fact, much has been accomplished since the end of term: the notebooks continue, a revision of a book has been submitted to my agent, and I still have time to read a lot. I read all the time, more so now that I have a Kindle application on my new iPhone. This is good for short reads on the bus or standing in line. I’m mesmerized by the technology that syncs the iPhone Kindle app to the Kindle.

But enough of that techno talk. Technologies are tools and what matters is how we use them. Which brings me to FB of which I have written twice on this blog. I am now an aficionado for all the obvious geo-political reasons, but also because, as a writer, I have found a way to distill interesting thoughts into Haikus. I sometimes write longer status reports or put up links to articles, but, mostly, I distill. And this is a writing exercise. Yesterday: “My mother is losing her memory. She has had it for nearly a century.”
That got a lot of heartfelt responses.

I also realize how much I have missed book stores and so my status report on FB today will be just that: I miss bookstores. The other day I spent too much time at The Strand, and bought two books. I could have come away with fifty. It was delicious, truly.

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