The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Time Out for Other Stuff

It's been a while since I've actually had something I felt worth sharing. No -- wait, that's not right. I have had plenty to say, but there is this editor in my head that insists that whatever I write is as precise as I can make it, so my reader(s) will know exactly what I mean.

I have been sitting on two personal pieces of correspondence for 'way too long, for just the same reason. It's as if a person born and raised in -- say, France -- visited a second year French class in its classroom. He would find it impossible to get across the exact thing he is trying to say. Both he and the class would be frustrated. Basics are okay -- but there are idiosyncrasies in language that hinder such precision. I have a friend who is learning ASL - American Sign Language - in a college setting. She had already mastered much on her own, but was surprised to find that there are shortcuts (I suppose in heard language they would be called acronyms or shortcuts, abbreviations) and slang.) Well, I say, why not -- every other language has those. But not knowing them as a born speaker of the tongue, they complicate that one who wants to communicate efficiently. I must admit, though, that sometimes the stumbling through can be fun. A woman who has never heard in her life moved into my building after Punta Gorda lost its fight with Hurricane Charlie. She is a bit older than I, yet somehow we managed to form a friendship. I don't sign, and it took some doing to understand her speech -- but we manage to communicate (sometimes it is hilarious - like watching a game of charades - to see us together!) I have a car, and my friend can no longer drive, so we shop together and go about the business of living, sharing a lot of it with much laughter and some frustration. We resort to pen and paper a lot, but I would rather save that as a last resort. I -- the recluse, the one who does not leave her tiny apartment from about 5 PM Friday to about !:00 Monday every week -- actually look forward to these forays into the world with my friend.

But I digress. I started out saying something about precision in speech. Just this morning I heard something on TV news that expressed my point exactly. Speaking of the missing explosives in Iraq, one newsman said that the it was the US troops' responsibity to "overlook" them. I know what he meant to say was oversee - that it was the troops responsibility to oversee them. There is a world of difference. But if one were to be translating that into, say, Chinese, wouldn't it come out either way? Not knowing the nuance of our language, a translator could completely befuddle the message in translation. Some ministers are called an 'overseers' of their flocks -- but if they overllook one in their charge, he will be dealt with severely. So I choose my words with care.

And the messages I have to write are gut messages. I need to make clear to those to whom I write just what certain incidents were like -- how it was being me in those circumstance. That is never easy for anyone.

It's not that I have nothing else to write about, either -- but these personal ones are occupying my mind (and will continue to do so until I get them written.)

Besides, if I were to write what I think of the election that has taken over the media (and what nasty nasty ads we have!) I wouldn't be able to count those who tune me out, soapbox or not!

Now is as good a time as any to place one of the poems from "The Soapbox Papers" in this blog - look for it separately.

Gnawing at my cuticles -


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