from the amalgamator’s observatory

In the city summer after the trashmen have driven off with the week’s waste, a trailing fetid odor stagnates mid-street. I ride through the rank air and it feels so oddly cool and clean. A young man asks if it will rain today and I shrug toward the dark clouds moving towards us from the south. A neighbor stares through me from behind dark glasses and I wonder why, when before she used to say hello. I believe things shifted when she bleached her hair. Perhaps she bleached out more than pigment. In the close quarters of rowhouse life, we are farther apart than in the rural countryside where being a neighbor means more than someone to avoid eye contact with. There it means sharing and helping, a way of life. I like my space and freedom from the noise of others, but I prefer a friendly understanding to rude avoidance. What if, like Bartleby, we all preferred not to. That said, I have my aloof days. I do have those.

And so…summer’s confluence of days spreads farther into time’s watershed, like tiny feeder streams losing their autonomy. Warm water mixes with cool and thus blended seeps through me. I am a slow cracked flagon, never empty, never full. Plagued by seeing all the wrong things, agreeing to mistakes made in advance. Orchestrating release of the next batch of tics, twitches, compulsions to soothe and smooth. Periods of mania descending to flatline. Elaborating on the never happening.

But wait! It’s never just the weather, is it. Isn’t it. Yes and no. This is getting repetitive. Instead let’s go word diving. It’s like pearl diving, but with words, and less dangerous. Fun fact: the average university-educated native English speaker’s receptive vocabulary size is around 20,000 word families (a word family is a base word and its inflected forms and derivations). Receptive size refers to the number of words recognized while listening and reading. Productive size refers to the number of words used in speaking and writing, and is often understood to be half the receptive size. To put this in perspective, the OED defines roughly 600,000 words. So dive deep, the bottom is farther away than you might think.

Leave a comment


  1. The OED needs a function that can make it work more like a thesaurus. We would all be richer for it.

  2. taidgh

     /  August 3, 2012

    Some great thought provoking writing as always. Cheers!



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Recent Posts

  • Navigation Station

    The links along the top of the page are rudimentary attempts at trail markers. Otherwise, see below for more search and browse options.

  • In Search of Lost Time

  • Personal Taxonomy

  • Common Ground

  • Resources


%d bloggers like this: