I Wish I Had . . .

. . . Studied Latin.

I have a long list of things in my past I wish I had done differently, and my depression has to do with a lot of them. When I was depressed, I limited my options.

I thought I’d share some of those I Wish I Hads from time to time. Here’s the first one.

In high school and college, I studied French and Spanish. I didn’t study Latin.

French and Spanish are based on Latin. So is English. English was my best love and my strong suit in high school, and I knew I would be an English major in college.

It is said that to understand and use the English language well you really need to know Latin. But I never studied it. I thought I could get by without it. For an English major, how stupid is that?

If you study English language or literature, sciences, the law, medicine, government, et al (Latin for and others), you will be awash in Latin words and phrases.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, all educated English speakers would have known Latin. Our founding fathers were among them. Our national motto, e pluribus unum, (out of many, one) is Latin.

Latin is supposed to be a “dead” language now, but it thoroughly permeates our English language. (Permeate, from the Latin permeare, to pass through.)

We use a lot of Latin words in every day English. Here Are Just A Few:

Agenda, bona fide, consensus, de facto, et cetera, facsimile, habeas corpus, incommunicado, media, non compos mentis, onus, per capita, quantum, renegade, semper fidelis, terra firma, ultra, versus.

Pretty good for a dead language, huh?

I read more non-fiction than fiction these days (biography, history, medicine, politics, science), and I frequently find myself having to stop and look up a Latin word or phrase I’m unfamiliar with. I’m reading the redacted Mueller report now, and it’s full of academic and legal Latin.

So yes, I kick myself regularly now that I didn’t learn Latin.

Peace and joy, and I hope your “I wish I hads” are few.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

Who Keeps Animal Abusers From Abusing Again?

If, like me, you like animals and are concerned for their welfare, you probably from time to time come across stories or pictures of animal neglect, abandonment, and abuse. Sometimes these stories and pictures are pretty horrific.

Even if you don’t particularly care for animals, you still should be concerned about cruelty to them, because it is well documented that people who abuse animals will likely go on to abuse people, too. They lack the capacity for empathy, one of the most important qualities that makes us human, and lack of empathy allows these abusers to inflict cruelty on others (animals or people) without compunction.

Many times the person or persons responsible for neglecting or abusing an animal never are found, and the best that can be done for that animal is to save it, rehabilitate it, and find it a new, loving home. There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who do this kind of animal rescue, and those folks are true heroes.

In the best of best possible outcomes, the cruelty perpetrators are found, arrested, tried, and sent to jail. As part of their sentence, these people usually are forbidden to own animals again.

That’s where I get worried:

Who makes sure animal abusers never have access to animals again?

People move, change names, go into hiding. Who keeps track of them and makes sure they don’t have a chance to abuse animals again?

Do they have to wear a big red A on their chest, for Animal Abuser, like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter?

Are they put on a nationwide list, as pedophiles are, forbidden from entering pet shops and animal shelters, subject to random home inspections, and made to report their whereabouts for life?

I think animal abusers should have to do all these things. (Well, maybe not wear the red A.) Because animal abusers, if given the chance, are likely to abuse again. I wonder if anybody knows what is done to keep them from ever owning animals again.

Can anyone answer my question?

I wish you peace, joy, and kindness to any animals you are blessed to have in your life. I have been blessed to share my life with a succession of dogs and cats, and I am a far better person for it. Currently, I live with one cat and two retired racing greyhounds, all rescues.

Thank you for reading my post.

Marjorie Beck

On Language: Are you anxious or eager?

Today’s post is about the words Anxious and Eager.

Mary was anxious to buy a new car.

Sid was anxious to meet her.

We anxiously awaited the train.

All three correct, because anxious and eager mean the same thing, right?

Well, no.

Our language, being a living language, is always changing.

The English language would be much poorer today if the Norman French hadn’t invaded Saxon England in 1066 and brought with them a whole new vocabulary: words like ancestor, attain, bachelor, boutique, chevalier, clarinet, cul-de-sac–to name just a very, very few. Look up a list of English words of French origin and you will see just how thoroughly the French language embedded itself into English beginning with the Norman Conquest.

Similar things happen on a smaller scale whenever English-speaking peoples come in contact with people from other civilizations and cultures: From Greek, we get atlas, chaos, muse, and democracy, the very foundation of our government,

Mogul and Mantra from Hindi,

Algebra and Coffee from Arabic,

Angst and Kaput from German,

And last but not least, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and eight other U.S. state names, plus hundreds of county, town, river, and creek names from the Native American people displaced from their lands by their European invaders.

It seems early settlers loved Indian places names, but Indian people themselves–not so much.

Okay, back to anxious and eager.

The foundation of modern English and the Romance languages (Spanish,PortugueseFrenchItalian, and Romanian ) is Latin.

The word Anxious comes from Latin, and means uneasy, greatly troubled by uncertainties. The origin of Eager is also Latin, and means enthusiastic, wanting to do or be something very much.

Now go back to the three questions above.

Was Mary uneasy or greatly troubled about buying a new car? Or was she enthusiastic, wanting to do it?

She could have been either, depending on circumstances, but most likely the prospect of buying a new car made her enthusiastic and very much wanting to do it. Thus, she was eager .

The same could be said of the next two sentences: The desired word probably would be eager.

Yet nine out of ten times these days when you hear someone say anxious they really mean eager.

Language purists like me get their innards all twisted when they hear these meanings commingled. We don’t like perfectly good words taken over by other words that don’t really mean the same. We want anxious to mean troubled about something and eager to mean looking forward to something.

ALAS,

Language purists like me are fighting a losing battle on keeping words as they are. Because here we come to another truism about our living English language:

Over time, word meanings change.

Once, awful used to mean awe-inspiring. Now it means really bad.

Meat was once any solid food, as opposed to drink. Now it refers to animal flesh.

Not that long ago, if you said something was dear, you meant it was expensive. Now if you say something is dear, you probably mean it is loved and cherished.

This meaning migration is one of the things that makes English such a rich, vital language. Popular usage makes it happen, over and over again. We can’t stop it.

Anxious and eager could have different meanings to future English speakers. (Assuming there will be future English or any other speakers, given what we have been doing to our planet. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.)

HOWEVER,

In our lifetimes, I’m still a language purist. I’d still like to see us use anxious to mean uneasy or greatly troubled about something, and eager to mean greatly enthusiastic about it.

That’s my two cents’ worth.

As always, Peace and Joy,

And thanks for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

On Body Tattoos and Piercings

I’m showing my age in this post. It will not win me any fans.

Yesterday at the grocery store the young man who checked my groceries out had tattoos on both arms from elbow to wrist and face and ear piercings in more places than I would have thought possible.

He was a nice, personable young man. He provided good customer service. I enjoyed the transaction. Still, I couldn’t get past his tattoos and piercings.

I hate tattoos.

Anywhere on the body.

Always have.

Always will.

I hate piercings.

Anywhere on the body except the ears.

I like pierced ears, on both women and men.

I even like multiple ear piercings, although I’m told it’s not good to have piercings in the cartilage, as some people do.

I pierced my own ears, with an ice cube, a cork, and a needle, when I was in college. OUCH!! The holes came out uneven. I’m considering having them redone professionally.

Back to Tattoos: I do have a few friends with tattoos, but I like them, anyway. (The friends, not the tattoos.)

Unlike my friends with their one or two tattoos, people these days get their arms, legs, and other body parts totally tattooed.

I think the only people who should wear tattoos are Polynesians. Polynesians look good in their tattoos. Their tattoos have class.

As for all the non-Polynesians with their totally-tattooed body parts, I want to ask:

What about your body made you think it would look better with tattoos?

When you’re old and your skin has turned to crepe paper and your tattoos are sagging into your wrinkles, will you still be glad you have them? Or will you wish you had never done them?

Back to Piercings: Why do you like to adorn your eyebrows, nose, lips, tongue, nipples, belly button, whatever, with studs and rings and whatever?

When you’re 80 years old, will you still enjoy having those studs and rings in your tongue and your lips and your nose and all those other body parts?

Just wondering.

Peace and joy to all tattooers and piercers anyway,

Marjorie Beck

Thanks for reading my post.

I Like You, Too! Wanna Follow Me?

A bunch of people are liking some of my blog posts recently.

Far Out! (She writes, showing her age.)

Thanks to you all. It makes my day to attract new readers.

If you like my posts, I hope you will decide to follow my blog. I may do the same. (Follow your blog, not mine.)

Peace and Joy,

Marjorie Beck

In Our Thoughts and Prayers

Continuing the religious theme of the last post . . .

As an atheist, I don’t pray.

And I don’t particularly like to hear the words “in our thoughts and prayers” because it so often seems a tired cliche people trot out when they hear something bad has happened to someone somewhere, so they don’t have to do anything more substantive about it. When I hear that, my reaction is usually, “Yeah, right.”

I have had people pray for me, though, in my presence, and it will probably surprise you that I don’t mind it. In fact, I’m often touched by it.

Here’s why:

Usually the person is someone who I know is secure and genuine in his or her faith;

The person respects that I don’t share that faith;

The person has a kind and loving personality and genuinely cares about other people;

And the person genuinely cares about me.

If all four factors are present and the person wants to pray for me, I accept and appreciate that show of care and kindness.

Proselytize me–No Way. Do it again, and I’m done with you.

Pray for me–Sure, if you’d like to.

We all need acts of care and kindness, of whatever form.

Peace and Joy,

Marjorie Beck

Thank you for reading my post.

Good Words: A Blog Mini-Feature

From time to time I run across funny, profound, or inspiring sayings I like, and some of them I’ll share as “Good Words” on my blog.

I’m not the least bit religious, but I really like the powerful image of  this one:

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

George Iles

 

Speaking of Insensitive Things to Say. . . .

It seems when people we know suffer a loss or a tragedy, a lot of us have absolutely no idea what to say to bring comfort.

For example, when your beloved companion animal dies, friends with no companion animals in their lives may say, “You can get another one.”

Or my personal favorite,

“It was only a cat (dog, rabbit, ferret, parakeet, snake, whatever).”

When I hear that, I want to smash the speaker in the mouth. My companion animals are my family. How dare you diminish their importance.

When I was younger and struggling with my own undiagnosed depression, I was one of those people who did not know what to say to others suffering a loss. I was so focused on my own misery it was difficult for me to feel true empathy for the sorrows of others. I said a lot of stupid things.

Here’s another of my favorite insensitive things to say:

God will never give you anything more than you can handle.

To me, this is total bullpucky.

First, I’m an atheist; I don’t believe in a god.

Second, if I did believe in a god, I wouldn’t believe in some divine puppet master who capriciously flings down suffering on some and good fortune on others just to see how they’ll handle it.

Third, whether or not there is a god, this is a condescending and patronizing thing to say to someone in pain. It doesn’t help at all. Don’t say it.

Through the years I have learned a lot about things to say and not to say to people in times of trouble. Sometimes I still don’t know what to say. In those cases, I’ve learned the best thing to say to suffering people is nothing at all, but just to be with them.

Sit with them. Give hugs. Hold hands. Take walks together. Let your presence show you care and you’re there for them. And if they want to talk, listen. Just listen, and don’t try to talk them out of their grief with platitudes. Just be, and let your presence and time work its healing.

Thank you for reading this post, and if you like it follow my blog and you’ll get notices of new posts.

Peace and Joy,

Marjorie Beck

When You Know You’re Old

I am 74 years old, and I have always looked younger than my age. I inherited my mother’s good genes for youthful appearance.

I was carded in a bar on my 30th birthday.

When I turned 40 one of my colleagues at work said, “You can’t be 40! You don’t even have any wrinkles.”

Into my 50s and 60s I was constantly told I didn’t look my age.

I hit 70 and everything changed.

I woke up one morning and found I had crepe paper skin and a turkey neck.

I hardly have any eyebrows anymore. I have bags under my eyes. Granny hairs regularly sprout on my chin.

I listen to classic country music and classic rock and say of current music, “I don’t know how those kids can listen to that shit.”

It’s been ages since anyone asked me if I qualified for the senior discount.

I can’t fake it anymore. I’m old. And the world is recognizing it.

I live in Eugene, Oregon, and Eugene lives for protest rallies. I attended one recently and as I left I was accosted by two men who saw by an item I was wearing that my political views differed radically from theirs. Two young native American women who were passing stopped and told the men firmly to “stop harassing that elderly woman.”

Wow. An elderly woman. It’s finally arrived.

Now I just have to learn to live with it and “age gracefully.” YUCK. I’ll do it, but I won’t like it.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like this post, follow me and you’ll get notices when I post new ones.

Peace and Joy,

Marjorie Beck

 

 

 

Warning: Politics Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

I said in one of my early posts I would not write about political topics. I made one exception to that for a June post email to Jeff Sessions. I make another exception now to write about how the current national political climate has affected me personally.

For the past two months I’ve had a problem summoning the motivation and energy to do practically anything, even things I normally enjoyed. My last blog post was September 6. I had lots of others waiting in my queue, but I just couldn’t call up the interest to post. I wasn’t feeling sad; on the contrary, my general attitude was cheerful. I just couldn’t find the motivation and energy to act.

This is a classic sign of depression. I was puzzled. Why would I be in depression if I was feeling cheerful and basically happy with my life? It took me a while to figure it out, but finally it came to me like a thunder clap. It was all about stress.

At some point long ago I came to the conclusion not to get stressed about things I couldn’t control. Traffic jams. Long grocery lines. Home power failures in storms. I followed Erma Bombeck’s advice: “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.” I use humor a lot to get through things I can’t change.

I have been living with things I can’t change since the presidential election of 2016. Humor has been one of my coping tools, faithfully following political comedy on TV and allowing my raucous laughter to carry me through situations that would otherwise enrage or dishearten me.

I thought it was enough. But after almost two years of living in this toxic, dangerous national environment, I have to admit it: I can’t ignore what this stress has been doing to me any longer. I need more coping mechanisms.

I’ve always believed in being an informed citizen. I follow local and national politics. In normal times, that doesn’t mean being subjected to a daily onslaught of negativity. But these are not normal times.

I don’t subscibe to the ostrich theory.  I won’t hide from the bad news. I won’t agree to be uninformed.

Here’s what I will do:

My partner and I enjoy watching some national political commentators in the evening. I won’t stop doing that. But now when I watch I take it in more objectively as information I should have, rather than as the latest political outrage I should worry about. Often I do something else while I’m watching, which helps to soften the impact of what I’m seeing and hearing.

I stay away from politics on social media. I have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I don’t use them a lot, and I don’t follow political figures.

When friends start talking politics in my presence, I ask them to stop. Although like many–maybe too many–people in this country, my friends and I mostly have similar political views. But I find discussing politics now even with people I agree with still leads to raised voices and shrill opinions, and it stresses me. When my friends and I talk  politics we’re preaching to the converted. So why do it at all?

To better manage my depression in general, I’ve starting using my SAD lamp for 30 minutes when I wake up each morning. I wear an Alpha-Stim cranial electronic stimulator every day for an hour. They are great mood-lifters and energizers.

These are some of the things I’m doing now to keep my depression and stress at bay about things I can’t change.

There is one thing I can do to change things for the better, and that’s VOTE! on November 6. I am a pretty regular voter, but I admit I sometimes have skipped midterm or local elections. No more. Every election counts, no matter how small and local. Every vote counts.

Please join me on November 6 to exercise this most fundamental right of your citizenship.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you like it, follow this post and you’ll receive notice of  my new ones.

Joy and Peace,

Marjorie Beck

 

 

 

 

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