A friend who shall remain nameless has been nagging me mercilessly about how I don’t blog anymore. Well, not mercilessly. And perhaps “nagging” is too strong a word. She gives me a gentle nudge every few weeks. It’s just my guilt that has blown it into titanic proportions. Until this week I had written nothing since last December, and even then the last few posts were interesting things I had found here or there; I wasn’t actually writing anything.
I want to write about my mother, who is dying by inches. I want to talk about how her mind, or rather her Mind (to put it in a Buddhist context), is keeping her from getting better, keeping her from enjoying life, despite the counsel and clear statements of several physicians. She was always a pessimist; now she’s teaching me how one’s mindset utterly controls one’s health and well-being. I want to talk about her anhedonia, a beautiful word for a soul-sucking condition where you don’t find pleasure in anything. It’s like apathy but sadder.
But instead of writing about my mother, today I am choosing to write about my love of etymology. I have always loved words. Mostly English words, but back when I was studying Greek and Hebrew, a friend saw me with a book on the derivation of Greek words used in religious scholarly texts. He said, “Boy, I’ll bet that’s pretty dry!” I laughed; I actually used it as pleasure reading. I devoured arcane etymological discussion like popcorn.
The other night Mom and I were talking, for reasons that escape me now, about pumpernickel bread. She asked where the word “pumpernickel” comes from, so I did some research. Continue reading