My Life Needs Editing

Jun 11

Weird Words & Blueberries

WillShortzCrosswordThe things you learn by doing The New York Times crossword puzzle!

Strange words like adit (a mine entrance), etui (a decorative case for a sewing kit) or my personal favorite, ort (a scrap of food), words that you’ll never see or hear anywhere else, and certainly will never utter. Utter waste of time, crosswords? Some think so, and others feel it helps your powers of concentration and memory. Who knows. And what was I saying?

Oh yes, crosswords. Besides all the weird word answers, affectionately knows as crosswordese—and about which whole books, blogs, and god knows what else are written—there are also clues in the clues.

States have official fruits? They sure do. And while Georgia’s is the peach, as you might have guessed, its biggest export of the fruit variety actually is blueberries. Lots of good stuff in blueberries. Or so they say. As of this writing. Please alert me if there’s anything I should know about blueberries that I won’t find in crossword puzzles. Also, I must confess right here that I got the blueberry info from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (a rhetorical question if ever there was one), and have some doubts as to its veracity. Will Shortz, on the other hand, would never lie to you.

Mort Sahl Meets Will Rogers

MortSahlTIMEMagWill_RogersAnyway. What I got from Sunday’s puzzle was a wonderful quote from Mort Sahl, the edgy comedian and political satirist popular who was described as “Will Rogers with Fangs.” Whoops, I just realized that if you don’t know who Mort Sahl was, then you definitely won’t know Will Rogers. Okay. He was Mort Sahl without fangs.
Look them up on the Internet, all right?

So. The answer to 100 Across was S-A-H-L: The clue was: Mort who said: “My life needs editing.”

Whoa, did that hit home. I mean, I know my blog sometimes needs editing. And my book, although it looked “clean” to the editor at first glance, needed a lot of help.

Note to anyone thinking about self-publishing a book: you cannot correct your own work; you need a professional editor, preferably one who’s good with semi-colons.

All of which all led me to wonder: If your life needs editing, but you can’t edit yourself, then who can you get to do it. . .


Is The Unedited Life Worth Living?

You could always see a shrink. A shrink, if she’s any good, will make you think. And maybe, just maybe, that will prevent you from making mistakes going forward. So you’ll be pre-editing the future, if that’s even possible.

But what about the mistakes of the past? You cannot take a blue pencil (that antiquated expression for correcting a manuscript) to the stupid, foolhardy, wrongheaded things you’ve said or done years, or even minutes, ago. You posted WHAT on Facebook? You tweeted about WHO? Or should that be WHOM? Is there, I wonder, an editor in the house.

“What’s done is done and cannot be undone,” said Lady Macbeth, via no less an expert on human nature than Willlam Shakespeare.

‘Fraid so, Will.

There is one way to edit your past life, though:

Creative Forgetting 101

Also known as rewriting history, this can definitely work, at least in your own mind. Plus, if you repeat your edited version of past events often enough, it will become the official version. 

•For those few pesky individuals who actually remember that your skirt fell off in the middle of Park Avenue. And have the photos to prove it. (Rewriting history has become considerably more difficult in the age of the iPhone, Facebook, not to mention the Wayback Machine, that part of the Internet that never forgets. Anything.)

•Or the time your book club decided to read the classics, which are, according to Mark Twain (You know him, right?) “books which people praise and don’t read,” and you decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey instead of Moby Dick, once you found out it was about a WHALE. Actually, you were reading Grey during your book club because you were even more bored by the discussion of that big mother mammal and that fakaktah captain than you were by what little you read of the actual book. You could pretend you read the Dick book and not the dick book, but then why did you think that Ishmael was a bad movie with Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty?

•And then there was that incident at the Pussy Cat Lounge. There were witnesses. Enough said.

Active Remembering

PatBookActually, you can read all about The Pussy Cat Lounge Adventure and other events in my life in my book, coincidentally titled I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M NOT BITTER and conveniently available on Amazon.

Unlike my life, the book was edited. But not censored! So it’s an edited version of an unedited life.

And life, in the words of our favorite Scandinavian philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard,* “can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” It’s a puzzle you never really solve, no matter how many crosswords you do. Trust me.

Although you do learn a few things along the way, most of which are totally irrelevant, like that three-letter word for table scraps, or who was the fangy one, Mort or Will, or what fruit Georgia sells most.

That would be ort, Mort, and blueberries. Phew! SEE? I concentrated and I remembered. I feel much better. And I cannot be accused of being totally clueless. In fact, now I can die happy and be buried.
Six down and four across. . .


*For more nonsense about Kierkegaard and the meaning of life:
Existentialism At The Cheapie Nail Salon


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