reading Reading the OED

reading Reading the OED


Dear Ammon Shea,

dictleasure .. the leisurely, treasured pleasure of reading a dictionary, most keenly the OED.

sheaman .. a person trained in the occult crafts and skills
of dictionary reading; coin from Ammon Shea's account of his fabulous
ascent of Mt. OED.

There should be a word for the muyyum [my only palindrome: muy yum] of reading Shea's Reading the OED
lying comfily on my back at 12:53:22 pm pst on Feb 19 2010, a day
before my erstwhile mother's 90th birthday with my chin buried in 14
yr. old tiny beloved Burmese Frolic's shoulder-fur as she lies purring
on my chest under my chin. A momentaryist, a momentaryissimaist, perhaps, one sequentially captured by each pearl of a moment lustrously passing.

cf funesist [foo-nay-sist] from Borges' story in Labyrinths,
'Funes.' Funes was bewildered that there was the same word for the dog
sleeping in the sun-struck village street at 2:15pm as for that dog at
2:16pm. The origamiing, magical folding of the thunder-strikingly
gem-like panoply ought startle and re-startle.

You'll be drolled that when I was in high school in these tiny
classes of seven kids, I thought I was funny. I was. But sometimes a
teacher would have had enough of my on-going commentary and I would be
“punished” by having to copy an entire page of the dictionary after
lunch while everyone else went out riding. Little did they know that my
CED, chronic etymology disease, was contracted then. I won't buy any
dictionary which doesn't have 'woven song' as the ety of 'rhapsody.'

In the vile poverty of college years, I was going to buy an
Unabridged anyway. I was contemplating a big fat one and saw that It
had “zeus” and “apollo” with “usu. cap.”  I ended up calling the
company & they apparently sold their own separate “Biographical
Dictionary.” Broke my heart that the real dictionary makers were
humiliated into putting “usu. cap.” On the other hand, in those days I
saw a blessed book I referred to as The New Century edited by Whitney
at Yale. For 'argus-pheasant,' it had the longlong tail actually
dropping down the column and other defs were written to it. I remember

In my 20s, I got a copy of the first edition of the “malicious”
microprint OED, my pride in which slew legions of buttons. It was
FrissonLand for sure. I'm 99% sure it was stolen by villain (&
smelly) brother-in-law who lived with my ex-third husband and me for
one year and never said “Thank you.” A nefandous year, really. I was
delighted that the oed had a vast section of “Spurious Words.” Like who
else would get to say that?

Suppose 'wh' were a prefix? isper; eddle.

incalcowow — the incalculably stupendous joie that one gets reading Reading the OED,
luxuriously waking and falling asnooze of a weekday afternoon, tinct
with the wicked vagant frissony myyumminess of going to a weekday
matinee of A Fish called Wanda, feeling like one is eating eclairs whether or not one is actually licking chocolaty custard off one's lips.

Screw oysters, chocolate, pulverized panda balls — the oed is the
aphrodisiacal elixir, quintelixir. (When a word goes to lower case,
it's a made word — cf quisling; google.)

Re the matutinal
and their insufferable attitude, be consoled that eternity is very long
and they get theirs. I fondly imagine an 11PM meeting in which one
frequently cattle-prods them awake, oh frabjous joy.

paltry .. dictionarys willing to not be the OED. As in who decides which words to extirpate?

giftfish .. selfishly give presents to oneself (one's elf) as in running to Amazon to buy Reading the OED
so one can have a copy to mark up with sly wrys in the margins &
with fluorescent daffodil-yellow Bic highliters & have in the
bathroom to illuminate shiturient episodes de vie. Being a Bathroom
Book is the highest honor. Also sent two to friends with a clue.

halcyon .. the kind of sweet day in which a kingfisher can
make her nest upon the bosom of the sea; also the externally shockingly
swift but internally vividly serene passage of time while reading 
RTOED or seeing Avatar3D both the 1st & 2nd times.

cat .. a mystic tho not mythic beast at once liquid & solid; 'Frolic,' the name of my silver cat, means “swift gladness.” Catilex,
catilexing is luxuriously reading a book on dictionaries, supine with
one's soft silver Burmese cat, Frolic, perched on one's chest, purring
under one's chins.

nooner — truffle-pigging thru the oed is a voluptuous treat in any spare time;

I define 'multiverse' — multi-verse — as many-poem place.

was contemplating wistfully (zero upper teeth left) the
gnashing-one's-teeth words, now erstwhile, idly wondering if they too
begin with a silent 'g'? (ranch, rassil, rent, ristbite) or do they
echo my droll 'guh-nash' when (I swear) there's a Wagnerian knock at my
recluse door. I mumpishly haul myself out of my warm cocoon,
distressing also the sleepish cat. Infernal who thinks it's okay to
pound on the door before noon on a Saturday? It is, unbless them, the
putative Witnesses (never any photos) of Jehovah, damned lucky I didn't
besmote them, & I would have bespawled them but you can't spit very
far anymore sans teeth. Bedrooling people is less fiery.

Re prefixes, I've long loved that 'for' is an intensifier and
before it got wistfullized, 'forlorn' meant 'deeply deeply lost.' Years
went by before it occurred to me that 'forgive' must mean 'deeply
deeply give.'  Not that I do it ever, but I like grokking it.

When I was writing savage essays about Sicker Dick Cheney &
Karl Boy, I discovered that 'scruple' meant 'a pebble in the shoe.'
Doing a wrong thing would bother you (not them) with every step.
Some-horrible-how I lost where I found the medieval “Let them re-eat
their own vomit,” as wildly useful as “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln,
how did you like the play?” No amount of Advanced Search can find it
for me.

It's such a drag to have this book end. The word that
springbokkedly sprang to mind when I closed the covers of RTOED was a
neon !Thanks!


Your fondest fan,