Cleaning house

I love cars; someday, when this season of life is over, I will drive a sweet little coupe again.  For now, though,  I just get to drool over others’.  And I’ve been starting to amass quite a few photos of beauties that haven’t made it into the public realm.  But what to say about them besides, “Oooo – look!” before they’re forever down the road?  True enjoyment comes from the sharing.  But I think I’ve said that before.

So I was ruminating over what to write about them, when I realized something.  I overuse the word “realize”.  While car photos never get boring, redundancy in writing gets old fast.   My suspicions of this word have been growing, and I’ve been trying to euphemize my way out of it.   To no avail.  The realization of my repetitiveness is irritating.   And then I realized the real problem: you can’t ‘try’ to do things; you must just do them if you want them done.  The words I use are so important – they express who I am.  I only go over ground repetitively if I can’t make sense of it.  When my brain finally wraps around a concept, the reality is that I’ve realized it.  It’s become a part of me.  I’ve obviously been going over much new ground (or old ground in new ways) to have so many realizations over the past year-ish.  More than I’d like.  And I realize now that it shows.

But that wasn’t the only word I was overusing.  As I looked at my speech and writing patterns,  I also saw that I use “but” as an article too often. If I’m not sure what to say, maybe I’d like to change the subject but don’t want to lead the conversation, I’ll absent-mindedly utter, “but…” It makes no sense in that usage. It also implies that I’m modifying what I just said, which is rarely the case. But replacing it with “yet” is no better.  I need to change how I structure my speech.  Sometimes, though, in order to understand something,  I must not only look at it, but then contrast it with something dissimilar.  I have to look at the other side to do that. The but-side.  But then I have a big “but” getting in the way of the real view. Time to streamline my vocabulary and get rid of the useless and excess, of which my precious “but” is but one.

Many years ago, I knew a guy who used “basically” a lot. He basically peppered his speech with it. He couldn’t mean anything without getting down to its base, which was why he used the word as building block and summary alike. He basically drummed me out of ever using the word.

So I found it funny that, about the same time, a girl came to live with our family who was, like, completely immersed in Valley Girl speech. Like, I totally respect that others have speech patterns that are, like, different from mine, y’know?   Yeah.  Well, I like, instantly picked up this invasive habit. I found it totally not tubular when I realized how I now sounded. The only thing I never picked up was “OhmaGawd!” – the quintessential Valley epithet.  Thank the Lord for small miracles.  But, like, everything else of the vernacular came out of my mouth before I could, y’know, stop it. Just like the waves on the beach the surfers that invented Valley Girl rode in on. And it branded me as an L.A. girl, which I was not. I’m from The OC, which is like, so different.

Then I started college and began my move toward professionalism. My dad introduced me to an intelligent young man he worked with, older than myself, who was going places. Dad rarely entered into my social life, so I knew this was important. The guy asked me to drinks at a restaurant, which was unheard of among the girls my age. I dressed appropriately, met him on time, and re-introduced myself. Then we started talking. “Like, that is so Cool!” I giggled at one of his stories. He looked at me with one eyebrow cocked. I can still see it today. I could’ve melted through the floor. He asked if I always talked like that. I had to admit that it was an unwelcome pattern that had entered without my notice or permission, but had become, unfortunately, fairly entrenched. I was not able to shake that “like” anywhere nearly as quickly as he dropped me. In fact, I still hear it on occasion. Be aware – I KNOW when it comes out. And every time, I wish I’d used “said” – which is usually what would’ve been appropriate – instead.

I’m going to buy myself a better Thesaurus…mine only has two options for realize: gain or think – neither of which is what I’m grasping for when I realize I’m using that word yet again.  The big but and “like”?  They’re basically gone.


2 thoughts on “Cleaning house

  1. If you like, realize what you’re doing when you’re doing it, it makes it easier to stop doing it. But, realization is only half the battle, y’know? For me personally, I have a hard time writing due to an almost obsessive need to not repeat words or phrases. I haven’t come to the realization that I’ve noticed your overuse of the word realize or a big but problem. But, like, I’ll keep an eye open for it in the future.

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