Friday, March 6, 2015

Collector of Words

I am a collector. There. I said it. Not a hoarder, mind you. At least I hope not. My mother was one long before they had a term and a TV show about that particular malady. But while I take after my mom in some ways, I eschew clutter; and while I am prone to letting it get away from me at times I am also constantly fighting it off.

When I say I'm a "collector" I mean that I have several small collections of random things. Well, not random to me. Perhaps to others. The things I collect I do so for, I'd like to think, a reason or two. I collect(ed) lighthouses, for instance. I add the (ed) because I'm officially done with collecting those and am happy with the collection I currently have. I think there is a reasonable limit and I feel I have achieved it. I have lighthouses--both those that just stand at various sizes and colors and those that can be plugged in to cast a little light--, lighthouse candles, lighthouse books, lighthouse frames, lighthouse paintings and photos, lighthouse Christmas ornaments, lighthouse placemats, lighthouse pillows, a lighthouse blanket. I even have a faux-lighthouse at the top of my stairwell (otherwise known as a cupola). I think that is enough lighthouses. I started collecting lighthouses because of a speech I heard years ago at a fundraiser luncheon. The speaker used the metaphor of the lighthouse to demonstrate how people can help others in need. Her presentation really spoke to me and I saw lighthouses in a, well, new light. So my lighthouses remind me daily of that.

I also collect some things because I just can't help myself. Like beach glass. This sort of collecting probably more resembles that of a hoarder in that it is no longer just a hobby. It has become an obsession. And the beach outside my door is the enabler. What more can I say? Someday I may actually do something with the literally tens of pounds that we've collected or maybe we'll sell them when the value hits $10 a ton. Although...I find it hard to part with a single piece.

Today I realized quite by accident that I am also a collector of words. Every day www.Merriam-Webster.com deposits a new word into my email. I read those emails pretty consistently unless I see in the "feed" that they are words that I feel pretty confident that I know well. Some of them are pretty benign; others are actually quite comical. On occasion the word is one that I just can't quite delete. I noticed my growing "collection" today as I moved the daily word email to my folder in Outlook labeled "Word of the Day."  

Perhaps I think these words could come in handy some day when I'm writing something, like my first novel (an "opusculum"). These are words like "importunate," "frowsy," or "ennui." I imagine myself in the middle of a sentence and trying to choose just the right word (or "mot juste"). I go to my word collection and voilà!

Other words in my collection are there to help me feel smart ("cerebrate"). Just by virtue of them being in my collection I feel a tad more erudite. These words include: "quotidium," "force majeure," and "abjegate." Still others seem to fit ("portend") my mood  at the time: "weltschmerz," "eolian," or "lodestar." And then there are those ("sockdolagers") that inspire me : "virescent," "conversazione," and "sea change." Lastly there are those words that are just plain silly sounding that make me giggle inside like an adolescent (or "retronym") hearing a potty word: "argy-bargy," "frog-march," and "grok."

There ought to be a word for word collectors. After all, by virtue of my sand collecting I am an arenophile. My hubby is a "helixophile," as he is intrigued with the art of corkscrews. But alas, I have found none yet. As much as I love collecting them, there is apparently no "word" to describe me!


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