Saturday, July 21, 2007

A blog about nothing

Life without school is glorious in its way. As graduation neared I became a little reluctant to graduate. Graduation meant the end to writing term papers and signing over paychecks to the bookstore. It also meant the end to a lot of my stories. Now I don't have much to talk about.

While in school I would be asked about my classes and professors. I could share the knowledge I was learning in class. I could discuss films I watched and studied. The social element of college is underestimated.

One evening I was leaving the student center. On my way out two guys asked me where the parties were on-campus. After laughing to myself I told them they were at the wrong school. I instructed them where the frats were and off they went to play the thrilling maze game. (I say maze game because one of the few times I went to a frat party I felt like a lab rat traversing sticky floors in search of cheese. And I'm lactose-intolerant.)

Never confused with a party school NU still offered the opportunity to meet new people with each quarter change. Being at home waiting to land that dream job doesn't bring in a large amount of new faces. There are only two letter carriers during the week and we don't speak. There is always the hope of a Jehovah's or someone who is selling siding.

When I go out and meet-up with friends still in school the dialogue revolves around school and whether or not I've found a job. Conversation is soon exhausted and I repeat the conversation with someone new.

At least the weather is nice and I can talk about that for a whole minute.

Oh to be back in school and have something to talk about.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Filler words and phrases, etc.

Her speech was endless. I cringed every time she began to speak in class. Generally, I am not opposed to the open discussion of ideas, but this girl made the King of Siam look articulate. She is not alone. She is part of the growing throng of ramblers. It isn't just a plight among youth. It is spreading the nation. I had professors that used the same phrase repeatedly. Which brings us to the mot du jour: circumlocution. My good friends Merriam and Webster define the word as:
1 : the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea
: evasion in speech

Perhaps you have a rambler in your office. If you are in doubt there are some surefire signs to detecting the
incoherent one in the room. They rely heavily on the phrases basically, whatnot, etcetera and, their favorite, ACTUALLY. If you still cannot think of the rambler it is probably you. In which case your time may best be spent reading up on public speaking. Please don't read aloud.

The girl mentioned above loved to use the word "etcetera." She also adored a phrase she picked up in sociology. My personal belief was that you needed at least a few things to use "etcetera" to create some semblance of a link between items.

I fear I may sound elitist in this blog. We all use filler words. There is some underlying need to fill silence. We start out with the basics "Um" and "like" and move onto "basically, actually,"
etc." etc.

I would like to suggest that the next time you are struggling with what you want to say next simply pause. The silence may make the other person listen more closely.

A fun game to play with friends is to count the number of times the word "actually" is spoken during a program. Your best bet is a home-improvement show or a live talk show.

My word of choice is "so." It's how I start most of my stories. So...what's your word of choice or word/phrase that drives you nuts? In conclusion, omit the word "actually" and "whatnot" from your vocabulary. The world will basically thank you.