It occurred to me that, unlike many of my friends, I don't do much blogging about my day-to-day life. Mostly, it's because I'm pretty lazy, and I don't do very much. Seriously. My days just tend to not get filled up with activities. I'm pretty okay with that, however. I don't want to write too much about work, and I don't really intend to get into specifics about my dating life (if only to preserve for myself the illusion that I actually have a dating life).
I dunno. I am supposed to be a writer, or something; maybe if I did more actual stuff, I'd have more to write about. Maybe I should go to sea. Worked for Melville. Anyway.
Yesterday, however, was a pretty action-packed day, by my standards, anyway. Mostly because I had just gotten paid, and I had a backlog of stuff to do that required money. The majority of it centered around getting Beige Thunder (note: that's not my actual car, but it's pretty similar) street-legal, with updated tags.
First step: pay off outstanding Orange Co. vehicle tax, so they can remove the hold on me getting a new sticker. At least, I thought that was where the hold was coming from; it turns out it may have been something else. (Foreshadowing!) Anyway, I pay that shit online, and then later I leave work early to get to the license plate place in University Mall before they close.
Once I get through the line (it wasn't too bad) and talk to the clerk, I realize I have two problems:
1: There's an emissions penalty on my record. See, here's the thing. I had a little problem last year when somebody broke one of my taillights, and it took me a while before I could get it fixed. Unfortunately, that time was after my previous inspection sticker had expired. And in this state, if you don't get your vehicle inspected in a timely fashion, they're going to want some money from you. (Really, if nothing else, let this post be a cautionary tale.) So, on top of the vehicle tax I paid earlier, I was going to be out a couple hundred more -- plus I think they snuck another penalty for something else in there while I wasn't looking. Whatever; I was surely guilty of whatever it was.
2: They only take cash and checks. I have neither.
I excuse myself politely, run to the ATM and run back. Since I was dropping so much money already, I figure "what the heck" and ask them to throw in one of those fetching NC flag plates for the front of the car (to replace the ugly dealership tag I had been wanting to get rid of for a while).
So, that unfortunate episode is behind me; my car is fully legal for at least another few months. I no longer have to feel nervous when a cop pulls up behind me at a light, unless I'm using the cigarette lighter to cook up some crystal meth. Again.
"Wow, Jerry," you are probably saying at this point. "That's quite an adventure! You'd think it would be pretty dull reading, seeing as how it's basically just you dealing with the DMV, but you make it sing! The words leap off the screen and nestle in my lap like fuzzy kitties! Etc.! Surely, there can't be any more to this tale -- for how many raw thrills can one human soul endure in one day?"
But there was more. There was Laundry.
Actually, there's not much to say about laundry. I did manage to move my nemesis down another notch on the High Scores screen on Trivia Whiz. But, really, the best part was finding that there was a black ballpoint pen in one of the dryers I was using.
And it wasn't just tumbling around in there. It was jammed into the drum, cap off, inky side out, so as to cause maximum mayhem. That's what made me suspect that someone had done it intentionally, perhaps as part of a larger social statement on how none of us is truly clean, our souls are all tainted, etc. To that person, I say: Well played, sir (or madam)! You have certainly made me reassess the human race. Well, not the entire human race; just the people who jam pens into dryers so they can mark up clothes with little black lines. My conclusion is that those people are pretty much jerks.
Was this the dryer into which I had placed my whites? Yes, this was the dryer into which I had placed my whites.
But: I took a walk later, and on the way home, as darkness settled about, I saw my first lightning bugs of the season. So that made things a little better.
Not to change the subject (well, actually, to change the subject), I'm a little concerned about what's happening to the word "bemused." For years, I assumed that to be "bemused" meant something like "to have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement." I had a pretty big stake in that belief, seeing as how I am composed of approximately 90 percent wry amusement (with trace amounts of shame, regret, terror and cat-hair allergies). When somebody told me that I "personify bemusement," I felt he had summed me up pretty well.
So I was pretty dismayed to learn, a few years ago, that "bemused" meant nothing of the sort. It actually means confused, distracted, absorbed. Which makes sense, upon analysis -- if you're "musing" on something, you're absorbed by it, so you can become "bemused" much like a ship can be "becalmed." Usage expert Bryan Garner is unambiguous on this: "bemused" is not "a fancy variant of 'amuse'."
I think the confusion stems from the fact that the "bemused" rhymes with "amused." It's like entrapment.
Anyway. I have tried to come to terms with the loss of my preferred definition of "bemused." I still don't know of any word that does mean what I thought "bemused" meant, however. There's probably some obvious word that I'll kick myself when I hear, but "bemused" is off-limits for describing the wry amusement.
Or so I thought, until I looked it up in my M-W Collegiate (11th ed.) the other day:
be-muse vt 1: to make confused: PUZZLE, BEWILDER 2: to occupy the attention of: DISTRACT, ABSORB 3: to cause to have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement (italics added)
I'm, like, holy shit! I'm pretty sure what's happening is that the notoriously descriptivist Webster's is just, once again, caving in to sloppy usage to change the definition of a word. (I'm kind of torn on the whole descriptivism vs. proscriptivism debate, anyway, but I lean toward proscriptivism because I like the fact that words have specific meanings, and I don't want to reward the misuse of language, and mostly because a world in which definitions are constantly changing makes me feel small and afraid.) The third definition of "bemuse" does not appear in the 9th edition of the same dictionary (don't know about the 10th) , and none of the other current dictionaries I consulted has that sense, either. MWCD 11 is in the vanguard.
So, I should be pumped that I'm finally getting a word to describe 90 percent of my personality -- and, as a bonus, it's the word I wanted to use in the first place! On the other hand, I don't like seeing the language being corrupted before my eyes.
I am confused and absorbed by this, but at the same time I'm wryly amused at myself for taking it this seriously. Yes, I am bemused by this in all three senses of the word.