Friday, January 20, 2012

Words And Spelling

When I was young, the first word I learned to spell was S-H-I-T. Maybe it was because my last name is Schmidt, and if you cross out every other letter it spells S-H-I-T (I'm not kidding here), and someone taught me such things. Maybe because I was a bit of a rebel growing up *see: bad kid*. Or maybe because my sisters were bad influences on me, and wanted to get me in trouble. Who knows? But the first word I remember being able to spell is the word shit.

I remember being so proud of the fact I could spell this word:
"Jim, Jim!" I yelled through the house. "I can spell a word!"
The man who was the closest thing to a father I had, looked at me with pride, "Oh? What word?"
"Shit!" I exclaimed, and with my youthful ignorance, began, "S-H-I-T."
I remember him struggling for a second while I just wanted a pat on the back, or a cookie, or something. Instead, he said, "Do you want to learn a new word?"
I shrugged, I was still stoked about my SHIT.
"Rather than S-H-I-T, put an R between the I and T," he told me.
I looked at him, "S-H-I-R-T." I allowed the letters to roll over in my head for a few minutes, "SHIRT!" I exclaimed, "I'm spelling the word shirt!"
He smiled, "I think that's a little more acceptable than the first word you spelled, no?"

Now, a million years later, sometimes when I get bored, I pick three basic words, words like THE CAT SAT, and see how many words I can spell using only those letters: THECATSAT:

It's a good exercise when you get bored. I also have an affinity toward word games; scrabble, banana-grams, scrabble slam, words with friends, etc. I completely blame Jim for this affliction and my obsession with words.

I think a lot about this moment, the moment I learned how to turn shit into shirt and consider that maybe...just maybe my writing is like that. That that's what editing does for me; turns my shit into shirt, because it's much more acceptable, no?



  1. ooh, kindred spirits. It amazes me that so many people are playing Words With Friends. Way back when, only a select few of my friends played Scrabble. When I started it wasn’t about building vocabulary, the challenge was extracting words in that jumble of tiles. Once I figured out that I could improve by unscrambling anagrams, it all fell into place. Then I got more and more hooked on creating anagrams, as my blog will attest. ... And wouldn't 'kindred' be a great play for WWF?

  2. That used to be one of my favorite things in school, when we got to make as many words out of Happy Halloween as we could :) I'm a substitute teacher and I always use this as a 'bonus challenge' activity :)

  3. Awww! Jim sounds like an incredibly awesome person! I love how that one moment influenced you so much. So very cool.

  4. @Leona, I am so in for a game of Words With Friends!! When I play regular scrabble, we just try to make words, otherwise it gets too competitive :)

    @Hope, Is it bad if when you posted Happy Halloween, I started playing along? :)

    @Peggy, He was/is an awesome person. Thanks for kind words :)


Please know that if you comment and I don't respond, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I don't have wifi, but I do have a bad memory.

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