In the world of IT, where I dwell many daylight hours, there are things called service catalogs. They aren’t really any different than any other catalog, or classifieds or menus really, except they don’t have pictures.
In the night I dwell in the land of words. I once wrote a short story about two old southern women who purchase a card catalog from a library to start painstakingly documenting the proper pronunciation of southern words, idioms and so on, only they are mischievous and supplant the proper ones with fakes- words they make up but fit clearly identified linguistic patterns.
They hope to one day be on the Today Show for having bamboozled fancy northern etymologists with phDs into thinking Ah’roo' Galla is the way you say arugula or Or- RAY-gonno for oregano.
This of course creates a wild goose chase wherein the phDs attempt to find Italian ancestry in the coastal regions of the old North state, posturing that it could be just like the Highlanders who settled in Appalachia, but it wasn't until the 1940s when musicologists starting transcribing Appalachian songs that they realized the Erse (a Scottish type of Celtic language) roots.
So, I’ve both written a short story, and planned my retirement simultaneously.
In actuality, I'm about 20% of the way through a creating a database of words containing the trigraph -dge. I don't have any good excuses for this self-imposed exercise, no post graduate credits coming forthwith. My motivation is 95% curiosity and 5% vindication.
Because, you see, in 2nd grade we had a special guest and later that week a bonus question on the spelling test if we could spell the guest’s name. Well, I’m still a wee bit prickly I only got 100% on that test because I felt his name SHOULD have been spelled "Rodger", if it were to fit any known and comforting pattern of English. Dodger. Curmudgeon. Lodge. If I can explain the aberration that is "Roger", I will be vindicated and my curiosity satisfied.
I once made a giant list of hundreds words that make me happy to reference any time I was depressed. When depressed I have a tendency to think I don’t actually like anything whatsoever, and can’t even remember what I used to like, even formerly a little bit. In essence I created a list in preparation to prove myself wrong at a future date. I wonder what DesCartes would have thought of that "proof"? In any case, I suppose that shows humility and in liking that about myself, probably the opposite too.
I have the happiness list in a box somewhere with other innumerable things. The list contains words with Es before Is but not after Cs or words with improbable vowels like two Ys (gypsyies) or too many serifs to be pleasing to the eye (Egypt), and I can’t for the life of me figure out why "triple" only has one P (pebble?! Hello! This makes no sense). Actually, it’s astonishing I can read at all given the distractions of the words themselves.
Tonight, as I ponder a new word quest for myself, I am reminded of these others. I know they make no sense, are bizarre, eccentric, etc, but I imagine my great grandkids stumbling upon one of these treasures one day and it makes me want to hide gifts all across the world for them to find, behind loose stones or in safe deposit boxes that include just enough cash to travel to the next one.
Tonight I want to start a new kind of service catalog. I want to write down every service ever done for me. I suppose you could call it a gratitude journal, but that seems too simple. It'd be almost an old fashioned ledger, but I'm afraid I'd start getting into subtraction.
Received: 2 pieces of unsolicited advice, less one backhanded compliment, balance = +1.
So, not a ledger either. A "service catalog" is as close as I can come to defining it. Maybe I'll make a second section for possible future services and have them at the ready as soon as an opportunity arises. Someone will ask for something and I'll say, "let me check. I don't have that in stock, but here's a catalog of things I can give you instead." I feel that would take a kind of honesty and self awareness no one has, but would be a worthy endeavor to develop, if for no other reason than to know what you're capable of.
I think this will be a lengthy catalog, because the first services done for me within the first 24 hours of my birth were-
1. I was given a name (and that is a form of faith and commitment), one that will not let me hide or be content in disuse, and spelled to ensure no one else has it.
2. My mother’s baby sister called the hospital to check on me, but she was only a teenager so when they asked if she wanted OB or GYN department, she didn’t know what they were and had to say, "I don’t know, she just had a baby." This story makes me smile because I was loved as a baby by a young woman not even old enough to know what love or obstetrics was, and isn’t that remarkable? We are capable of things we don’t even know the words for.
3. My mother's best friend came to the hospital to bring me a yellow t-shirt with that beautiful plastic puffy 80s print that said "A Star is Born". And it's not that I think so highly of myself so much as it is a reminder that there is light in every child, and we are all the billions of stars in the sky. Unique and yet the same.
And that was only my first day on this Earth.