Tag Archives: words

To This Day: A Video on Bullying

When I was in school, I was bullied.

I was taunted and teased and called names.

I was pushed and shoved.

They splashed water on my skirt and told everyone I peed myself.

They sat behind me and threw things at me in every. single. class.

For a year.

“Just ignore them and they’ll go away.”

But they didn’t.

Sometimes they’d pretend to be my friend. Just for a little while. They’d sit beside me, and laugh, and talk, and tell me they were sorry they’d been so mean. Sorry they’d call me names, it was just… They’d look me in the eye. It was just… I’d be much more popular if I’d only slit my wrists. Or stop breathing. Or just hurry up and die.

They’d laugh when they went back to their real friends. Laughter. A sound that could shatter my soul at a hundred paces. And I’d just sit there where they left me. Silently. Holding back the tears and wishing it didn’t hurt and I hadn’t believed just a little bit for just a second just believed that they really did want to be my friend. Wishing I didn’t feel betrayed all over again. Wishing. Wishing I couldn’t feel anything. And thinking that maybe just maybe they were right. Maybe just maybe I’d be better off dead.

“Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.”

Tell me again how words will never hurt me.

The words are still there. Way down beneath the surface of my smile. Mostly, they’re still. Silent. But sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they stab and poke at me from the inside of my heart. Nerd. Loser. Square. Ugly. Four eyes. Freak. Goat. Nobody will love you. You should just die. Don’t touch her, she’s disgusting.Ugly. Nerd. Wrong clothes. Wrong hair. Wrong words. Wrongwrongwrong. Hatehatehate.

But it’s not just me.

Shane Koyczan was also bullied when he was in school.

He made a video.

It’s like he put a stethoscope to my heart and made a movie of my pain. And then he added hope and a happy ending.

Watch this. Please.

Were you bullied at school?

25 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Random Stuff

Choose Your Own Appropriate Language

English is a bleeping awesome language, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I love it. I love the depth of the language, the sheer joy of letting words play around in my mind and then spill out of my mouth in such a way that I can convey not only ideas and facts, but concepts and inferences. It’s exciting and exhilarating. And sometimes other words that start with ‘ex’. Like exasperating, excessive, exclamatory, excruciating, exhausting, existential, experimental, expansive, expedient, explicit, expressive, extensive, extreme, exuberant, and hundreds of others. (Although that last may be an exaggeration.)

But there are some words that elicit an immediate reaction in people, regardless of their context.

Whether you call them swear words, curse words, naughty words, or profanity, you know the ones I mean.

The words you wouldn’t say in front of your 80 year old grandmother.

The words that are more often referred to by ingenious pseudonyms in polite conversation. “The F-word”, “The C-Bomb”, “Sugar Honey Iced Tea” and their ilk. You know the ones I mean.

In real life, when I’m expressing my opinion verbally rather than in edited prose, I’ve learned to be careful with my use of offensive language. I used to swear. A lot. Then I had kids, and I rapidly replaced that profanity with less offensive alternatives.

Sugar Honey Iced Tea turned into a heartfelt Holy Dooley!

The F-Word turned into a loud Goodness!

And let me tell you, my children know I’ve really, truly had enough when their actions elicit an emotionally charged, “Goodness Gracious!” or, even worse, “For Goodness Sake!”

I wouldn’t swear in front of my children. I wouldn’t swear in front of other people’s children. I wouldn’t swear in front of my parents either, for the most part.

And that’s why I don’t generally use profanity on this blog.

I wouldn’t use profanity if I was having a conversation in a public place, where I could be overheard by people unknown. So I don’t use profanity here, in a public forum, where anyone can wander in and read what I’ve written. It’s pretty simple, right?

Um. No.

You see, I also write fiction. And when I’m writing a story, sometimes characters use language that I wouldn’t. Some characters do swear in front of children. And their parents. And even 80 year old grandmothers dying in hospital beds. Because (and this will hopefully not come as a huge surprise) not all people think, act, or feel the same as I do.

I made the decision a long time ago not to edit the character-appropriate profanity out of my fiction writing. And so when you read through the Flash Fiction posted on this blog (just click the link up the top there if you’re interested!), you’ll find the occasional naughty word.

As an artist, I’m not prepared to censor myself when it comes to the authenticity of my work.

But…

But it’s different when it’s me talking, rather than a character. It’s different when I’m writing an editorial post — an outpouring of my own opinion — rather than a fictional story.

And that’s why I really struggled with the question of profanity when I posted a poem a couple of days ago. You may have noticed that it included a naughty word. Just the one, yes, but even so. (If you didn’t read my poem, you can find it here.)

For the first time ever, I agonised about whether to edit a word out of my post. I argued with myself extensively.

“But it’s a poem. It’s art. I have to leave it in there.”

“But it’s not really fiction, is it? It’s just an editorial piece written in verse.”

“Yes, but that word needs to be there. It expresses the emotion more clearly than any other word would in its place. It’s not like it’s just filler.”

“But if I wasn’t writing in verse, I wouldn’t have used it.”

“Yes, but…”

“But…”

In the end, I took a deep breath and posted the poem as I wrote it. Even knowing that anyone could read it. (Even knowing that my parents could read it.) Because a poem is, after all, something more than the sum of its words. And no one would even notice, right? And if they did, they certainly wouldn’t comment.

The next day, when I was at school to pick Big Brother up, I ran into a friend who happens to read my blog. “Hi Jo,” she said. “You used a naughty word in your blog yesterday.”

Well, so much for no one noticing. I can still fall back on the art explanation, right?

Do you use profanity in your writing? Do you have rules as to when and where it’s appropriate?

19 Comments

Filed under Opinion

Word, Words, Wordy, Wordary: A Review

I have a confession to make: I’m not a big computer game player. (Gamer? Whatever.) There are one or two games I play occasionally on my PC, a couple of exercise-based games I play on the Wii, and I once spent a few weeks addicted to playing Fable on the original X-Box. But for the most part, I would prefer to read a book, go for a walk, or play a board game/roleplaying game than sit and play a computer game.

But there are exceptions to this, and I recently came across one. Now, I’m not a game reviewer and I’m not going to pretend to be, but I do want to tell you about this game. There are two reasons for that: (1) I really like it, and I think you might too, and (2) I’d really like to give you a copy. For free. (No, really.)

Much as its name suggests, Wordary is a word game. Or, as it’s being marketed, “A word game with a spin!”. At its most basic level, it’s a word-creation game along the lines of Bookworm.:You’re given a grid of letters and you create words by linking together adjacent letters. The longer the word, the more points you get. And, of course, different letters have different point values, so QUIZ will get you a lot more points than NOTHING.

The difference is in the board itself. Rather than a rectangular grid of letters, Wordary uses a ‘flower’ design of seven hexagons, linked… wait, how about I just show you a picture?

The cool thing is, not only are the hexagons interlinked, each individual hexagon can also be rotated to realign the letters.

After playing Wordary, I’m not sure whether this feature is an amazing new concept in word games, oran addictive gimmick that  results in me playing the game for far, far too long in one sitting. You choose.

There are four play modes to the game: The standard game, a time challenge (you set a timer before you start), Follow My Lead (you’re given a letter/s you have to use to start each word you find), and Word Finder (you have to manipulate the hexagons and find the hidden word). My favourite is Time Challenge – largely because it lets me track how much time I’ve been playing!

Anyway, here’s a nifty video about the game. It only runs for a minute and a half and pretty much shows you everything you need to know to play Wordary.

Now, I just know you’re sitting there wondering how you get your hands on a copy of Wordary. So, here’s the deal:

Option1: Visit the official Wordary website where you can click through to by the PC, Mac or iPad version. (The full price is roughly $10, but it looks like there’s a few promos going on at the moment.)

Option 2: Go here, here, or here to download a free demo of Wordary — you get one hour’s gameplay before being asked to upgrade to the full version.

Option 3: I am very excited to announce that I have FIVE free copies of Wordary for the Mac to give away! Interested? Just leave me a comment that includes (1) your favourite word, and (2) that you’d like a copy. I’ll close off entries when my next post goes live (Monday 3:00pm AEST) and randomly choose the winners. Tell your friends!

I leave you with this final warning — Wordary is highly addictive and a LOT of fun. Play at your own risk.

Disclosure: I haven’t been paid for this review. Although I was offered a free copy of the game, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the offer because I don’t have access to a Mac. All opinions expressed within are my own and are shared out of the goodness of my heart  because it’s an interesting and engaging game. The giveaway copies have been provided by Wordary at my request.

8 Comments

Filed under The Inner Geek

Because I LIKE Stories… (Or: More Random Ramblings About Me)

Bart: Dad, what’s the point of this story?

Homer: I like stories.

At some point in the future, I expect to have this exchange with at least one, if not both, of my children. (Although I do hope they call me ‘Mum’ instead of ‘Dad’.)

I like stories. I really do. In fact, I find it difficult not to tell stories.

I’m that person who, when asked a yes/no question, feels the need to answer ‘sometimes’. And then explain that answer. At length.

I’m that person who, when asked to rate my opinion on a scale of 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree), wants to get into a discussion on the finer points of the question, and then tell a story to explain why it’s not a simple question.

Yes, I’m that person that you really do not want to answer your survey.

This need for storytelling happens all the time. I can’t just tell you I don’t have an eReader — I have to write a poem. I can’t just say that I don’t tell my children Santa is real, I have to explain my reasoning. I can’t even make a flippant comment about having to kill a spider without making a song and dance about it.

I bet you thought that was just for the blog, right?

Nope. Ask my husband. He’ll back me up.

Everything has to be a story. I can’t help it.

And that’s why, when faced with a series of 10 questions (from Inside the Actor’s Studio), I am highly unlikely to be as amazingly concise as Bridget, Kim or Tricia. These three lovely ladies answered the following ten questions as part of a Monday Listicles Link-Up, and did it simply and succinctly. They’re part of a great Monday Listicles Link-up (that I’m not cool enough to be part of), but I couldn’t resist answering the questions anyway.

I swear, I will attempt to be concise.

But I make no promises.

1. What is your favourite word?

There’s nothing like starting with a hard one for a lover of words. There are so many great ones. For simplicity’s sake, I’m quite fond of the word ‘Yes’. It’s strong. It’s open. It’s affirmative and proactive.

But it’s not my favourite.

I particularly like words with a strong sense of onomatopoeia, like susurrus, or words that are challenging (and therefore exciting) to use in everyday conversation, like zeitgeist.

But they’re not my favourites. Not anymore.

Now, I love to hear my words come out of my 4-year-old son’s mouth. I love it when he says things like: It’s getting quite dark outside, indeed. Or: I’m not hurt, I’m just feeling a little embarrassed and sad right now. Or: Daddy will be so proud of me when he sees what I’ve accomplished.

But my absolute favourite word is one, simple syllable.

Mum.

Even when I’ve heard it 375,892 times in a single day, and I want to change my name. Hearing my little boy call me Mum is my favourite thing in the world.

(Especially when it’s followed by: I really love you.)

2. What is your least favourite word?

That’s hard, because I think every word has its place. Every word is perfectly suited to a particular time and place. So choosing one that I don’t like is really dependent on what I’m doing, where I am, and how I’m feeling.

There are phrases that I abhor (like “kill time”), but I can’t honestly think of any words.

So let’s just say that I detest words that are used incorrectly, or pronounced incorrectly.

3. What turns you on?

Words. Stories. Language. Surprises. Honesty. Compassion. Proactivity. Humour. Love.

Wrap those things up in physical form, and I’m a happy lady.

4. What turns you off?

Dishonesty (even about little things). Whinging. Lack of Self Confidence.

And, on a more physical level, bad breath. Ick.

5. What sound do you love?

The tap-tap-tap of my thoughts and ideas turning into words on a screen.

My children laughing.

Music. Stories read aloud.

The hush that falls over the house when my children (finally) fall asleep of an evening.

6. What sound do you hate?

Silence.

The silence that immediately precedes the question, “What are you doing?” and the answer, “Nothing.”

The deafening silence of an empty house.

The silence of a sleeping baby that breeds a fear only a parent can know: Is he still breathing? Is everything alright?

The awkward, angry silence that follows an argument.

The silence of tears that have been shed.

7. What is your favourite curse word?

This is an easy one. Although I have been known to drop the “C word” in the right circumstances, my all-time favourite has to be the ever-popular m*therf*cker. (Or emmer-effer, as Mr Wendig is want to say.)

8. What profession, other than yours, would you like to attempt?

I started university 4 times. I began with psychology (I wanted to be a child psychologist). Then I went to education (I wanted to be a high school english/maths teacher). Then I moved to straight english. (I wanted to be a writer. And I am.) Then on to an arts degree focused on Latin and Philosophy. (Clearly, I wanted to be unemployed.)

Overall, I’m glad that I didn’t finish any of those courses of study. In fact, in most cases, I barely started them. I’m happy to have had a twelve-year career in retail, where I learned management, leadership and sales. I’m happy to be a mother (with on the job training!) and a writer.

But if I could do anything at all, regardless of skill, ability or talent, I have a secret profession wish lurking at the back of my brain, long hidden from the harsh light of reality.

I’d like to be the lead singer of a Power Metal band.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

What, particularly? Like, not all the millions of jobs that I have no interest in (like doctor, lawyer, and waitress), but something that I particularly do not want to do under any circumstances, and being forced to do it would be akin to being flayed alive?

That’s easy.

Child-care worker.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“You should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Valhalla’s down the road.”

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Filed under Opinion, Random Stuff

Good, Gooder, Goodest?

Kids are the best bs detectors ever invented. Seriously. In fact, kids are so good at picking up things that are ‘wrong’, that they do so even when the wrong things are right. Right? Right.

I was cooking dinner while 4-year-old Big Brother was racing around the house in his invisible racing car. He screeched to a halt in the doorway and proclaimed, “Mummy! Lightning McQueen is the goodest race car!”

I gave him a smile and gently corrected, “Best, Sweetie. Lightning McQueen is the best.”

He looked at me blankly. Then he scrunched up his face and shook his head. “You’re just tricking me,” he said with a cheeky little grin.

I couldn’t help but laugh, but then I said, “No, Sweetie. Goodest isn’t a word. Lightning McQueen is the best.” (Words are important, okay? Look at the name of this blog.)

Big Brother looked at me as though I’d just gone stark raving mad. “But fastest is a word,” he said.

“Yes.”

“And strongest is a word.”

“Yes.”

“And quickest is a word.”

“Yes.”

His expression changed to one of smug victory. Something a little like Sheldon Cooper when he thinks he’s just outwitted the world. “So goodest is a word,” he said.

I smiled, and crouched down to his level. “Fastest and strongest and quickest are all words, but goodest isn’t. The word is best. Really. Lightning McQueen is the best.”

Big Brother considered this for a minute. Then a minute more. Then he asked, “Well, what does best mean?”

“Uh… Uhm…” I gestured helplessly. My mind cast about for an answer. I considered consulting a dictionary. All the while, my son looked trustingly into my eyes, waiting for pearls of wisdom to drop from my lips.

“It means goodest.”

6 Comments

Filed under Life With Kids